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.