#NaPoWriMo Entry #7: “The Fish in a Cup of His Own Making”


Today’s poem was inspired by The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister.  When I say inspired, I don’t necessarily mean “inspired by the story,” though one could certainly make the argument that my cursory knowledge of this rather famous children’s book did influence the writing of the poem below.  It’ll be interesting to hear what people think of what I’ve written…

For the record:  I am behind by three poems.  No idea if I’ll catch up…

Here goes:

“The Fish in a Cup of His Own Making”

There are no scales covering the skin
of the god fish who floats downriver
in a cup of his own making.

His tail — a mangled twitching
against the banshee howl
of the wind turned hypersonic
on its journey through the
crags of a forgotten canyon.

His mind — a quiet confusion,
the pine-salt air in his lungs
sustaining a body yet yearning
for the deep solitude of water.

Ah, but a solitude in the company
of a community of confused beasts,
whose shimmer-scales and whistling-furs
remind the god fish of the days
when he was master over all
and his scales were quiet flashes
in the honey flow of the Sun.

The frayed snap-twig in fin,
he rows towards the light —
the candles of evening whisper,
saying his name as the wind
carries the dreams of ghosts.

And in his dreams — a screech,
the falcon’s jealous feather-gaze
upon the multicolored shimmy shimmer
of the god fish’s many scales;
the grumble of the earth beasts,
the tinfoil call of scaly walkers,
the scruffy scrabble of the whispering ones
and so many voices so the earth
at once knows only one name:
the god fish! the god fish!

In the cup of his own making,
his tears turn sour on bare flesh,
glittering with dream stuff
like echoes of faces in still water:
hands and claws and talons ripping,
pulling like unkempt wolf children
at the multitude of magnified markers
which the god fish dispells in salt.

Oh, but the worst dream of all —
the little cousins and sisters
and brothers and friends
who once knew the god fish
by the smiles that graced their faces…
Their bodies are now home
to someone else’s skin.

Up the river, pushing weak currents,
the god fish holds his tongue
against the roof of a mouth
made sticky by too much trauma.
Against the wet sting of his wounds
his grief finds its voice in his silence.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

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