Home > The Crowd > The Loaves and the Fishes

The Loaves and the Fishes

November 17, 2010

by Karl Elder

The real mystery is that with an order like that you’d have to phone-in ahead. You’d have to say something like, “Yes, for a party of five thousand,” and the voice would have to be convincing. Well, you know how that goes. With cynicism running rampant in the world, your story better be good.

For one thing, there are requirements. The loaves must be of a certain size so that your disciple hunkered down in that hollow rock upon which a false-bottomed basket rests has room to maneuver. Perhaps it isn’t so preposterous when you consider a gross of a gross of loaves would cut it. Why, there would even be enough for seconds all around and maybe leftovers!

The tricky thing is the fish. In that blazing sun it’s got to be a fresh catch. Then there’s the problem of distribution, especially with the fish. Do the people form a line? Or do you allow them to circle the mountain, given the distinct possibility that before lunch is over there are those who, fishtails in hand, will be slapping one another as if with rubber chickens.

Logistics. Better to go with canned sardines.


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Karl Elder’s long poem The Houdini Monologues, with accompanying CD, is available from Word of Mouth Books, the imprint of his magazine Seems. Commentary from Elder on his poem “Ode in the Key of O” in Beloit Poetry Journal’s 60th anniversary chapbook, comprising new work from Chad Walsh Award recipients, appears in the journal’s blog, Poet’s Forum.

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  1. November 21, 2010 at 4:38 am

    Then there are still the ones that open up the bread and say ‘What, no cream cheese?’

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