The Straits of Lake Lida

As I walked out on the straits of Lake Lida
I met an old turtle* a crawlin' along
His eyes were all wild, like a fly with a spider
He wailed, as he walked, the most mornfullest song.

I see by your beer can, said I, you're a turtle,
And that you've been out here a pretty good while.
It looks like you tripped when you took the last hurdle
What was it that robbed you of your turtle smile?

I'll tell you my story if you'll tell it 'tothers
For I must save turtles lest they take my path,
I'd go and lie down now, if I had my 'druthers
But maybe my tale will save someone's sweet ass.

Last night drank we keg beer till I felt quite woozie
And I started reelin' without makin' casts,
When all out of no wheer came this black-haired floozie
A struttin' the shoreline and waggin' her ass.

A keg-mate, here nameless took note, of this creature
And ogled full long as she wiggled on by,
I saw him deep study her every fine feature
From full drooping bosom to well-curv'ed thigh.

And then with her pinkie she beckoned him to her
And bid him to follow her close to her lair;
The last thing I saw was them both melt in darkness
His fingers all wound in her wild, streaming hair.

I followed them long through the wild in the darkness
And then became lost and bewildered forlorn
I called out his name but heard only the starkness
Of black croaking ravens that clamored till morn.

To this day I know not of what evil befell him
I know only this, that he's never returned
But I say here in warning, beware of black Helen
Take rein on your passions when she makes them burn.

So all ye wise turtles, when you make spring sojourn
Out here to Lake Lida, take heed to my tale.
If ever Black Helen comes sit down beside ya,
Let loose of your flagon and run ye like hell.

For none yet have returned from her lair in the wild-wood
None have returned to describe her wild charms.
Believe not the rumors that say how she loves good
But only return to your sweet baby's arms.

And be thankful you met me all withered to tell you
Before you succumbed to her hot heaving charms,
Be thankful I stand her with truth to unspell you
So you tangle not in her hair and her arms.

For I have it from others she'll never release you
Till she has deprived you of reason and rime
Believe not her lie that she's just come to please you,
Or you'll look like me when drink makes it your time.

So all you young turtles, come sing by the fire side
Sing loud of the dear one who wears your bright ring.
And fix not your thoughts on the wiles of Black Helen;
Just take it from me, you have reason to sing.

Gene Pinkney


*Note: male faculty of NDSCS used to take a 3-day "faculty fishing trip" to celebrate the end of the school year and hail in summer vacation. Women faculty of course were invited but none ever felt safe in coming. The group called themselves "the turtles" who had only one distinguishing hall mark :When asked, "Are you a turtle?" the answer had to be, "You bet your sweet ass." Spoken loudly for all the world to hear. In the 70's and 80's the favorite destination was Maple Beach Resort on Lake Lida near Pelican rapids. Not everyone entered the fishing contest; many played cards and a few just sat about singing cum bah ya-type songs. We had guitar players, a mandolin picker, a spoons player and one mad fiddler. The naughtiest of the group over-ate and a few drank-- ever so moderately! Many wild tales have emerged from these "trips." But really, what happened at Lake Lida, stayed at Lake Lida. (Except of course for the legend above.) G P

Copyright 2006 Gene Pinkney
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