Monday, January 26, 2015

Flash Fiction and Poem by Catfish McDaris

Catfish McDaris' entries in the Michael Brown contest are "100% true" and set in Milwaukee, just like the picture above.

Sweet Jesus

The symphony leader was a master violinist. He borrowed a three hundred year old Stradivarius violin valued at six million dollars for a concert at a church. After the concert he departed the building by a darkened parking lot with no security and headed for his car. Two men with taser guns zapped him and made off with the valuable instrument. The entire police force was on high alert and finally captured the two robbers. The violin remained missing. At the same time a five day old African-American baby girl was kidnapped. News reports on all television and radio channels gave more importance to the violin than the missing infant. The violin was carried first on the news and given more time for updates. The homicide and vice department of the police were assigned to find the violin. Finally the baby was found in the next state in a duffel bag at a gas station in the middle of winter. The baby had been outside for twelve hours, but miraculously was fine. The violin was found two weeks later in an attic with no damage, the rich owners never came forward and revealed their identity. All of Milwaukee paid the overtime for the police force. I’m just glad my prayers were answered.  

It's interesting that the police in Milwaukee are called the Po Po.  I had thought that it was just a Maryland thing.  (One of my students a while back wrote a poem about the Po Po.)  

 Beware of Po Po

Annoyed Starbucks customers were
trying to enjoy their morning coffee,
but a young black man fell asleep in
the sun on a park bench in their view

The man wasn’t homeless or stoned
or bothering anyone, the yuppies got
out their cell phones and complained,
instead of buying him a cup of java

Three po po cars arrived, they hit the
man with a baton, he raised his hands
to protect his head and surrender and
then they shot him fifteen times

This happened in April 2014 near Red
Arrow Park in Milwaukee, it is now
December and no one has been charged,
sometimes taking a nap could be fatal. 


Catfish McDaris’ most infamous chapbook is Prying with Jack Micheline and Charles Bukowski. His best readings were in Paris at the Shakespeare and Co. Bookstore and with Jimmy"the ghost of Hendrix"Spencer in NYC on 42nd St. He’s done over 25 chaps in the last 25 years. He’s been in the New York Quarterly, Slipstream, Pearl, Main St. Rag, CafĂ© Review, Chiron Review, Zen Tattoo, Wormwood Review, Great Weather For Media, Silver Birch Press, and Graffiti and been nominated for 15 Pushcarts, Best of Net in 2010, 2013, and 2014, he won the Uprising Award in 1999, and won the Flash Fiction Contest judged by the U.S. Poet Laureate in 2009. Catfish McDaris has been published widely. In The Louisiana Review, George Mason Univ.Press, and New Coin from Rhodes Univ. in South Africa. He’s recently been translated into French, Polish, Swedish, Arabic, Bengali, Tagalog, and Esperanto. His 25 years of published material is in the Special Archives Collection at Marquette Univ. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

I'm going to post images of some of Catfish's chapbooks, starting with Prying.

A review of the book and interview with the three collaborators follows below:

I'll finish with some violin for you.  

Here is Regina Carter's "Pavane Pour Une Enfant Defunte."  Yes, she is playing on a Stradivarius violin:

She performs "Lady Be Good" with the Ray Brown Trio here:

This is "Ain't Nobody" from 2005:

Finally, I'll include her version of "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," which is actually Cassandra Wilson's version since it was her album--and her vocals:


  1. It is so horrible that our culture is so consumer oriented that people complain to the police that they do not like the view. There were 30 complaints against the man in Staten Island who was selling loosies (loose cigarettes) on the street. When he was murdered he was just standing there and not selling anything but the police thought they had the right to harass him. The split between the haves and the haves not is growing bigger each day.

  2. God! this country's values have got to change! Thanks for sharing this story.