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Fish Poem

May 23, 2011

Megalops Atlanticus

Tarpon tearing through a tea-green sea
scales sluicing–splash, slap, swish
The sky presses the ocean for a kiss

I am dizzy with lust when I look
at the water–the way a creature’s skin
can glitter in the sun

When I’m done, the beach will be crowded
with gamey flesh.  But this one is
no one’s trophy–too quick to catch

Ok, it’s a minor work at best, but I really do dig these fish: Tarpon are not only gifted with a Latin name that sounds like a Roman gladiator– Megalops Atlanticus!— but they are impressively large fish, reaching 250 pounds or more in the wild. They can live for over a hundred years, and they have the unique ability to breath air from the surface of the water through their mouths, not just filter it from water through their gills.

Giant tarpon are seen throughout Southernmost Florida, gliding under the docks of any marina: tourists are rightly astounded by seeing such a big fish swims so close to shore.  Indeed, most large fish species are pelagic (deep water), and many others (namely groupers) have been overfished to the point of invisibility so close to shore.  I suspect the only reason large tarpon are still numerous is that they are not considered “good eatin'”–there is no money to made in killing them.   They are, however, considered a “fun fight” by sportfishermen, so this species takes a few lumps for the benefit of human amusement.

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