When winds of war had not yet howled, a summer before

that infamous December day, we drove off in the rain,

going fishing in dad’s new hydromatic black Desoto.

We had no luck with juicy fat night-crawlers, silver minnows

and even hellgrammites; we kept on baling out the deluge

till we were almost swamped.

The only creature caught was Blacky, who tangled

with the tackle box, snagged in a frenzy with barbed hooks

in daredevil lures and shiny steel red-feathered spinners.

Sequestered in the car dad removed the hooks

like a practiced neurosurgeon even though

he was just a desk-bound CPA.

Blacky whimpered in a blood soaked blanket

as we listened to the pizzicato patter of the rain.

“Sounds like Bojangles tap dancing at his best,”

dad said as he downed two quarts of beer,

chain smoking Lucky Strikes, claiming

only sun and beer could subdue his psoriatic itch.

He sang Jolson’s rendition of “April showers”

and his favorite jingle: “My beer is Rhiengold

the dry beer, it’s not bitter not sweet it’s a dry flavor

treat, why not try, extra dry, Rheingold beer.”

Before passing out he recited:

“Here I sit broken hearted, paid a jet and only farted.”

I dozed off drunk on purple Kool-Aid dreaming

of prismatic colors of dew drops on green and yellow

lily pads. I heard the humming of gnats circling over

the rippling lake, spied on water spiders scooting

over curious sunfish hungry for a dragonfly or two

and was tickled to catch a mess of pickerel,

stringing them through the gills for a Brownie

snapshot to show off to my friends.

Dad had to part with his Desoto, deemed a non-essential driver

with an “A” gas ration sticker. When he became an air-raid warden

I helped him tell the difference between a P-38 and a Messerschmidt

which I knew from reading comic books. When sirens blared and spotlights

searched the sky I’d be stationed at my window, a sniper at the ready

with my Daisy BB gun taking pot-shots at parachuting Krauts, slow moving

wraiths falling from the sky into my backyard, much easier to bag than catching

pickerel in the rain. Milton P. Ehrlich 199 Christie St. N.J. 07605