These purchased fish never had a chance:
sold as “feeder” fish they would have been
lunch for a turtle or something larger
than themselves in someone else's tank,
hiding from the lumbering monster
that would devour them with toothy mouth.
Three dozen came home on a small budget
from a filthy tank filled with the dead
sucked into the screen at the back
of an overcrowded pick-up racing through
a watery canyon of hell they never thought
they'd be a part of from the day of frydom.
In these first days of glorious frenzy in clear space
beyond their wildest dream should they have a dream
of something clean they swim in fifty-five gallons
of new, un-peed haven as it came from the well,
which sat for a week disgorging its chlorinated murder
before these little hearts burst racing glass to glass.
As it comes to all who trek across the filtered gravel,
death, dismembering, eaten, picked-at, broke-bellied,
they float lifeless beyond their mouth-chewed horrors.
What began as the Magnificent Three Dozen
has fallen into a single digit family pecking
black gravel in search of fallen, netted heroes.
Expectations of those beyond this page may demand
the poet make some comparison via metaphor
to their slippery lives as readers, blistering to and fro
in furious pursuit of bits of falling flake
that rain from a lighted sky as they dash to pluck
the tiny planks of life-giving sustenance from air:
To hell with that.
Barry G. Wick