Fish Watching Paint Dry

Far off and oddly near,
deformity inheres a storm, where
the sanguine slosh of war reigns

a bellicose rain with thunder claps
applause in one-sided prayer cheers,
a dear victory one day at least apt

Power on
power off
power who

Some fishy things are left standing
a shard of a city, a hope façade

Too long the fish have watched
the decrepit peeling walls
from their tank barely maintained, but

the turret tanks have left in retreat
and the rebels have won a day
with a song, a prayer, and a slog

Time to paint the walls for now cheery
those celebration colors on the cheeky walls
where the fishys don’t mind if I move them
now that the power is back on for a slosh

Though soaked in fish water and paint
I can brush victory colors on the wall, and
now finally take my long hot shower, soapy
in soothing melodrama upon the
skin of fantasy and the caress of peace, but

fish can not go back to the tropics
anymore than I could go to the North Pole
to mourn the memories frozen in agony
    Books by Douglas Gilbert
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2 thoughts on “Fish Watching Paint Dry

  1. A very compelling poem! For some reason, I initially pictured fish soldiers sitting in an armored tank. 😀


    1. Thanks. Yes, I can see that. I had to make a compromise with the two kinds of tanks. Fish tank is more natural, but it didn’t fit the rhythm so I made up “turret tank” to distinguish and left a plain “tank” for the other. Poetry is prone to metaphors so sometimes everyone is expecting them before they’ve been fleshed out. It’s sort of what happens with clauses and phrases that grab onto the closest previous word before the comma to modify even if it’s not the subject.


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