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randomly happy to see your fish are safe

stream of conciousness ode to fish

you said you'd cleaned out your tank

I'm randomly happy to see your fish are safe

now that I know 

there were no WC funerals at your house

and you two didn't dine on leonid clownfish starters 

I always thought I'd like 

to have a tropical saltwater tank 

for all the vivid flashy ones 

(often poisonous, especially downunder

in your neck of the woods)

If not that, maybe a Koi pond, someday 

very soothing 

and such hardy carp-slash-goldfish kinfolk

suitable for most climates

An old roommate tried to keep

two Vietnamese fighting fish 

males, with showy cobalt banners 

waved in battle

in separate miniature wall-mounted tanks 

one might otherwise think were sconces 

for floral display

We came home to find the fish 

on the carpet

having given up 

on the staring contests 

to leap out 

across the gasping distance 

in their haste 

to batter one another

a good life lesson 

in there somewhere, I'm sure 

or a sandwich

Freshwater piscenes are okay too 

Where would we be without carp, 

for instance? No gefilte fish

or long-lost relatives: 

two brothers named Funk, 

who fled Germany to the States 

under a death sentence 

for draining the water from 

a Hessian noble's carp pond 

Whenever Opa was asked 

if so-and-so Funk was related

he'd reply, in his elegant Prussian accent: 

"If he says so, he's only boastink!" 

the name as common as Baker -

or Williams, for that matter -

means spark, as I'm sure you know

which appeals to me on all sorts of levels

glee everytime 

I see Funkensraum in a WWII movie . . . 

Without carp, no monsters 

the size of remote-controlled, robotic submarines 

in the abandoned quarries where I used to swim

thrilled and a little scared 

when they would brush against me 

longer than my own height

in the black waters

getting out to sip wine 

from a goatskin flask we'd picked up from the bottom 

10 metres down, perfectly preserved 

for G-d knows how long

but the wine had soured 

and tasted a bit leathery . . . 

I was briefly afraid of sharks

primed by Indianapolis tales

following Jaws, the movie

even in quarries

even in chlorine pools

even though I'd stepped on a shark once 

in shallow waters, without harm 

and knew them generally to avoid fresh water

Though one made its way 

down the St Lawrence into our Erie 

and was spotted in off the peninsula 

near my grandparents' home

a nine foot nurse, I think

And there are those freshwater 

South American alpine lake refugees 

to consider as well . . .

I don't fish much anymore

though I learned to tickle trout 

with great patience, required in any form of angling

and am still slightly torqued at my dad 

for giving away my first catch

a three foot cat I landed at three

because he didn't want to bother skinning it

I had an closet ichthyologist as a prof 

for a comparative zoo class

a wild red-head, who sought to imbue us 

with an appreciation for all things fish: 

how could I not wonder 

at creatures who never stop growing? 

and all their other ichthy attributes

She also had the best fieldwork snapshots

unlike mine, which 

A) started off with all the places I'd fallen off of, or out of

B) didn't scan nearly so impressive on a 4x5" print -

when I realised there were no living things yet in my frames

and snapped a 12' termite mound, 

hanging like a chandelier high above the ground; and

C) when I finally tried to get some monkeys

came out like most everyone else's: 

distant fuzzy brownish dots, lost in a verdant sea

Hers, in contrast: moose 

in the Upper Peninsula (of Michigan) 

with wolves

then just re-introduced there,

and her, inside a cage, with a polar bear (outside)

stompin' and rockin' it 

trying to reach the sweet crunchy treat inside . . . 

Anyway, in her labs, we had 

lots of dichotomous keys 

(used in taxonomic assignments, 

to identify species)

loads and loads of algorithms

pruning out yes/no branches 

until we'd arrive, supposedly

at the only correct answer

I came to loathe this exercise

The key would proceed 

through increasingly pun alert!

specific markers, such as: 

lateral red stripe caudad

or blue iridescent cheek spot

The problem being,

fish preserved in formalin 

are grey, through and through

I have NO idea 

how I passed that lab

. . . Where was I again? oh, yeah

happily random fish safes

filled with

sultana kisses,

XO

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