Smart Fish Don’t Bite

For John Prados

Only the stupid ones who get caught,
gutted, beheaded, filleted, and eaten
fried or poached or boiled or broiled,
pickled in brine, fed to porpoises raw
at Sea World, canned for family pets.

The smart ones just keep swimming.
You’ll never meet an intelligent fish
because they don’t take the bait,
though they never seem to go hungry.

My friend Gary Metras loves to fish;
ties his own flies, pulls on his waders
and heads for his local river several
times a week, rain or shine, year-round.
Strictly catch-&-release. Lucky fish,
but not very bright. He tells me
he often catches the same fish
multiple times. One of these days,
the guy with the rod won’t be so kind.

This is why we hear about the liars,
hypocrites and crooks like Spiro Agnew,
Richard Nixon, Jimmy Swaggart,
Bernie Madoff, Sam Bankman-Fried,
and all those other stupid fish who
can’t resist the bait. Ever wonder
what the smart fish are up to,
the ones you never hear about?


The title of this poem is a sentence found on p.193 of The Ghosts of Langley: Into the CIA’s Heart of Darkness by the late historian John Prados.

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