Ode to Big Muddy Asian Carp
by Richard Newman
An angler’s hatred for you is instinctive.
You’ve spawned and spread up every confluence,
and here, below the Alton lock and dam,
you litter broken concrete shores by thousands,
yanked from your riverbeds and lined like missiles,
some six-feet long and some the size of loaves.
You all wear the same face: wide-eyed dismay.
Thistles of bones break through your silver skin
while mounds of guts shine in glorious rot.
No gulls swoop down to pick your eyes or innards.
Though you’ve been prized through Chinese dynasties
and sold to Israel as gefilte fish,
no one here will touch your flesh but flies
whose maggots boil between your sun-warmed gills.
Over a hundred feet above your stink
flocks of American white pelicans
caress the currents with their ink-tipped wings.
They pause a moment, studying, then plunge,
a gaudy signature of life in death,
while great blue herons nod to lapping tides.
We brought you here to binge on catfish algae,
but carnage on these banks is your rank triumph,
a florid waste, a drop in the bait bucket
of your relentless population, nudging
out native bluegill, walleye, largemouth bass.
Your silver hoards gleam through our silt waters,
propelled through dams, twisting round each bend
to leap upriver and choke life at the source.