Michael Zahn, of Poinciana in Central Florida (south of Orlando) writes poetry about swimming of all varieties (smooth to sloppy) as well as water ecology, the philosophy of Epicurus, and nudism.
He is a longtime member of US Masters Swimming (he was born in 1947) but does not compete (he is a realist).
He is a far better poet than swimmer, which isn’t saying much. His poems have been published in Outdoor Swimmer, SwimSwam, Swimzine, several US Masters Swimming venues, the Lake Cane Restoration Society, OpenWaterPedia, “N, the magazine of naturist living,” and other publications with low standards and no pay.
He attributes his resounding success as a published swimming poet to the fact that he has very little competition.
For inspiration, he collects — and wears — swimming award medals dated before World War II, mostly from England and the Continent. In fact, right now he is wearing a medal issued in 1919 to Reginald Flint for taking 2nd place in 150-yard breaststroke, from the Sheffield Amateur Swimming Association. His sons think this hobby is creepy.
If you have read this far, you deserve some entertainment, so here is a poem about a little lake in Orlando, the site of the renowned Lucky’s Lake Swim. (Go look it up.)
If you don’t live on the East Coast, I should advise you that Yuengling is a popular beer around here, though I cannot fathom why. On the other hand, I can assume that you have thrown down a Pabst or two in your time.
THE MERMAIDS OF LAKE CANE
“Mermaids at night, sailors take fright.”
[Ancient adage that I just made up.]
Many a sailor has gone insane
upon spying the mermaids of Lake Cane.
After a night of too much beer,
these sailors claim that they can hear
the mermaids sing in tones divine:
“Do not fear, the water’s fine.”
In dead of night, in full moonlight,
the mermaids lure the sailors in
with flips of their tails and saucy grins.
As legend tells it, the sailors succumb
because they’re drunk (and also dumb).
Next morning, the sailors wake in their beds
with soaking wet clothes and huge throbbing heads.
Ask them what happened, you’ll only get groans
and pleas that you speak in much gentler tones.
The fable ends here, the moral is clear:
If, while drinking too much Yuengling,
you think that you hear mermaids singing,
and it sets your senses tingling,
let those feelings slide right past.
Ahoy! Avast! A midnight splash would be half-mast.
Batten your hatches! Put down all beers, including Pabst.
Don’t lose your head, set sail for bed,
‘cause the mermaids of Cane are creations to dread.