Paul Russell Canon, aka Catfish, was a really awesome guy. I should know – he is my daddy. And I’m pretty awesome too! You just can’t dispute logic like that.
I mean, just look at us: you can’t just win the Buffalo Bill lookalike contest two years in a row without being awesome. TWO YEARS! I suppose it helps if you have a daughter in a bonnet. Aren’t I cute? I still have that bonnet!
Also, try to carry a rifle into downtown Portsmouth any other day of the week and see what you get!
So, Catfish was cool. He was also moody, hilarious, extremely simple, yet frustratingly complex at all the wrong times, and honestly one of the most godawful stubbornest old Aries goats that I’ve known. To know him was to be affected by him – Catfish was one of those people who wave their arm and you feel the ripple of the motion through time and space.
He could stop windshields with his bare chest, and did it multiple times, flung from cars drunkenly weaving down dirt roads. I don’t know how many hangovers he conquered, or how many half-siblings I have running around the American south, not to mention Mexico.
A conversation was generally punctuated with “Hey! Look at that sunset!” or “Did you see that tree?” – so much so that for years in my teenage rebellious ire, I refused to see trees and sunsets or cranes flying overhead. He still loved me, and said that my black lipstick made me look like I’d been kissing someone’s poopy ass.
Seven years ago, about seven hours earlier, on this very day, my Daddy dropped his body and left to experience a Great New Adventure. Seven years ago, about four, on this very day, I was digging through his empty bedroom still thick with his presence to find his folder of poetry.
Poetry is the biggest gift that Catfish gave to me. Feeding me Ferlinghetti, beat poetry at nine years old, playing word games with me, critiquing my work. Introducing me to Whitman, who I love, and Frost, who I tolerate…teasing me about liking Emily Dickinson and loving it when I started twisting words like wire.
His wishes were that I share his poetry with the world. Most of it was either scrawled in his left-handed cursive that he painstakingly worked to keep legible and attractive, or henpicked on his old typewriter with the “r” key that stuck when used.
Happy Spring, Daddy. Happy Spring, all of you! Go, and look at the trees and breathe in the air that surrounds you. Embrace the world and it’s magnificence in the minutiae.