As soon as the elderly waiter
placed before me the fish I had ordered,
it began to stare up at me
with its one flat, iridescent eye.
I feel sorry for you, it seemed to say,
eating alone in this awful restaurant
bathed in such unkindly light
and surrounded by these dreadful murals of Sicily.
And I feel sorry for you, too—
yanked from the sea and now lying dead
next to some boiled potatoes in Pittsburgh—
I said back to the fish as I raised my fork.
And thus my dinner in an unfamiliar city
with its rivers and lighted bridges
was graced not only with chilled wine
and lemon slices but with compassion and sorrow
even after the waiter had removed my plate
with the head of the fish still staring
and the barrel vault of its delicate bones
terribly exposed, save for a shroud of parsley.
~Billy Collins [buy]
Across the Universe (2013) (Col. Chris Hadfield, with the Wexford Gleeks)
They shook the green leaves down,
those men that rattled
in their sleep. Truth became
a nightmare to their fox.
He turned their horses into fish,
or was it horses strung
like fish, or fish like fish
hung naked in the wind?
Stars fell upon their catch.
A girl, not yet twenty-four
but blonde as morning birds, began
a dance that drew the men in
green around her skirts.
In dust her magic jangled memories
of dawn, till fox and grief
turned nightmare in their sleep.
And this: fish not fish but stars
that fell into their dreams.
~James Welch [buy]
"In Which Our Heroine Considers Her Alternatives"
Draw any beast by starting with a circle! Then pencil in tusks
or distended bowels or a sweater vest with scratchy argyle
Naturally complications accrue with each additional triangle tooth,
each subsequent month of discarded girlfriends and gods and
years of scribbled decisions and enemy blood clumping on our fur.
Our beginnings never know our ends: every day I start knitting
and have yet to bind off a one. Umpteen distinguished civil
box after box of chalk to population patterns and projections,
and still I overheard the chief comptroller in the bathroom stall
’Are these ideas right or wrong?’ as he pissed his morning coffee
So I subscribed to Understanding Your Worm. O simplest of
have you slammed the phone or weepingly packed an overnight
I confess that personal ad in the March issue was mine: ISO ascetic
who hearts long walks through leaves, who like me, spirals when
It stung, yes, to get no replies. Postage perhaps was out of reach.
But at last
out back I found love nibbling the pink guts of a squirrel. Such
as his nose pressed death! How did it end, you ask? Reader, I
~Jynne Dilling Martin [source]
Explorers: Amundsen (1976) (David Cobham)