Umbrella’s lighter offshoot


Doby Mick: The White Snail

by J. Patrick Lewis

       Call me Izzy, call me Dizzy,  
       Just don't call me when I'm busy
Nailing paper napkin sails to the spar
       Or obeying Captain’s orders  
       To toothbrush the Captain’s quarters
For our ship Peapod is smaller than a car.

       There was me, Quickquack and Stubby  
       Playing rubba-dubba-dubby.  
As for sailors, though we seemed a little odd,  
       Only one man took the honor
       As the GOING-going goner!—
And our peg-leg Captain Baha got the nod.

       Bound for sandbars off Nantucket,  
       Baha steered this thin tin bucket
For electric eel. We put ‘em up for sale.
       But we knew his secret mission
       Was to go one-knee-deep fishin’
For that rascal Doby Mick, the all-white snail.  

       Oh, the awesome sky was bluesome,  
       But the possum pie was gruesome,
And the cook cried, “Po-pie tastes a little weird.”  
       So he added tenderizer  
       From a bag marked FERTILIZER—
After dinner, every sailor grew a beard.  

       Years ago, I heard the story,
       ‘Twas in Tweezul territory,
Doby Mick slimed Captain Baha and his crew!  
       And the Lobsters all applauded
       Like the noisy Oysters raw did . . .
Baha couldn’t get the gummy off his shoe.  

       Ever afterward the Captain,  
       On the afterdeck, stayed wrapped in
Cellophane that would protect him from the slime.
       If you don’t take some precautions,
       It’ll take you forty washin’s—
Doby Mick’ll run a muck a second time!”

       Captain Baha yelled, “My hunch is
       Eels will curlicue in bunches,
Dizzy Izzy, where the Grammagaboobies swim.  
       If we’re quiet and we’re careful,
       We can catch our legal share full,
And I just might catch another glimpse of him!”  

       Lightning struck! And Doby thunder
       Heaved a tidal wave up under-
neath the Peapod, and we watched the waters churn.  
       We were very nearly flotsam
       When Quickquack yelled, “Aye, I spots ‘im!”
And the Captain shouted orders from the stern:

       “Your first Snailing rule, men, is  
       Gently tickle those antennas
If you want to keep the Sluggish fellow tame!
       Call him Doby Mick, not Mickey,
       The Gelatinously Icky—
Doby hates his slick offishal-sounding name.  

       “If he whistles any louder,
       Rub his foot with baking powder
While applying Sun-Block 40 to his shell,”
       Which made Doby’s double-chinning  
       Look like he had started grinning,
And to all his fishy friends he waved farewell.

       Then we sailed away contented,  
       And the Captain complimented
Doby Mick, who’d climbed aboard without a fuss.
       When the ship had reached the harbor,
       Ray Zerthin, the Peapod barber,
Said, “From now on this White Snail sails with us!”

       When we traveled round the globe, he
       Would become our Gunner Doby
Firing bon-bons and s’mores from off the bow.
       No, our battles were not bloody—  
       He could not hit anybody—
But we swabbed the deck with Doby anyhow.

       Every time we take him eeling,
       Oh, we get a lovely feeling
It’s the Peapod life that he is dreaming of.  
       And the moral to this tale?
       If you should befriend this Snail,
Doby Mick will always slobber you with love.

J. Patrick Lewis has published over fifty children’s poetry books to date, with Knopf, Atheneum, Penguin Putnam, Harcourt, Little, Brown, Creative Editions, National Geographic, Chronicle and others. His poems have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The New England Review, New Letters, the new renaissance, Kansas Quarterly, The Santa Barbara Review, Fine Madness, and many others.