Three Men in a Boat

It was a blustery fishing opener in 2011 when Minnesota’s Democratic Governor (Mark Dayton) and the Republican leaders of the House (Kurt Zellers) and Senate (Matt Dean) got together to support the state’s tourism effort by going out just after midnight to not catch any fish.

Although the three were not alone in the same small boat, that would have been an ideal situation to promote a settlement of what was then a 5 billion dollar shortfall in the state budget. Or it would make a great scene in a movie. Deliverance, anyone?

This was not a new situation, as the state had been locked in a pattern of political budget strife under the previous Governor, Tim Pawlenty.

The whole idea of three in a boat reminded me of the classic children’s poem by Edward Field, Wynken, Blynken and Nod. Offered here with sincere apologies to the author and everyone else. (Including Eugene Field, the real author of the original poem – Thanks for the correction, Verrily Sherrilee)

Dayton, Zellers and Dean one night
sailed off on a big pontoon –
Sailed on a lake in a mid May gale
By the light of a northern moon.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish and to accomplish
what they said could never be.
At least not under Pawlenty!”
Said Dayton,
Zellers
And Dean.

The old moon laughed and winked an eye
as they rocked on the frothy lake,
And the wind picked up as the three did try
to do some give and take.
The little stars, worth a billion each
they sparkled the whole night through.
But never enough could just one reach,
without the other two.
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
Dayton,
Zellers
And Dean.

One said “taxes,” two said “cuts!”
To the stars as the waves did rise.
They barked and they howled, as would three old mutts
Avoiding compromise;
‘Twas such a predictable path they sailed
To come round to where they’d be
At the very same spot from whence they’d sailed
Way back in January —
And I shall name you the fishermen three:
Dayton
Zellers
And Dean.

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Dale Connelly

I am a writer and broadcaster living in the Twin Cities.

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