From the three finalists below (in reverse alpha order by author), cast your vote in the sidebar poll. Hurry - voting closes at midnight Alaska Standard Time on Monday, Aug. 19. We'll celebrate the winning entry on Aug. 22.
Here's to dead fish!
RIME OF THE ANCIENT TROLLER
by Lesley Thomas
It is an ancient Mariner,
And she stoppeth one of three.
“By thy long grey locks and putrid coat
Of slime from ten days on a boat,
Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?”
A tipsy party on the way
from happy hour on the quay,
Blithe and donned in rich array,
No thoughts of Salmon on this day,
Landlubber jobs far from fillet.
She holds him with a skinny hand,
“There was a Fish,” quoth she.
“Hold off, unhand me, grey-haired loon!”
Eftsoons her hand dropt she.
She pierced him with an eagle gaze
Marked by chase of countless days,
Of midnight sun, and fog and haze.
“What is your saga dire to tell?
Let me by, you scaley hag –
The socioeconomic role you played
Under our eight-starred indigo flag
Of lengthy tale no Fish is worth,
So keep it quick and give us berth!”
“Water, water, everywhere – “
“No, about the Salmon, please?”
She fixed him with that glittering eye,
His comrades muttered, ill at ease.
Unhappy guest, he beat his breast,
Yet cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient witch,
The bright-eyed Mariner:
“My hooks are empty now of King,
Bottomfeeders are the thing,
In nets made out of plastic string,
Whilst circus ships as big as towns
Teem with prostitutes and clowns,
On decks the million tourists cram
To snap a pretty Instagram,
My troller now quaint museum piece,
I’ll sell it off, or maybe lease…
But an Ode to Salmon I can sing.”
“Let me by, you fearsome Dame!”
She held him yet with eyes of flame.
“Or prophesy of doom I’ll give
Fast forward from the times we live
Two decades hence, acidification
Prevents the tiny shell formation
Of the foodchain bottoms’ krill,
And thus the mighty Humpy kill.
“On DHA the world was fed,
Until the last Sockeye was dead.
O Paean to Salmon I can chant,
Of poisoned waters I can rant,
Though I see you are a shill,
Who came to live here post oil spill!”
“Unhand me, Crone, I have no time,
For odes or rants or any rime. “
“Then, Brother, can you spare a dime?”
He went like one that hath been stunned
By gaff hook on the deck forlorn,
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.
THIS IS JUST A TEXT TO SAY
by Kelly Robinson
that wr n
4 KT’s thing
4 give me
they wr delicious
& so salmony
O SALMON, MY SALMON!*
by Geoff Kirsch and Libby Bakalar
O Salmon! My Salmon! Your fateful trip is done;
Spent all your milt on every egg along your salmon run;
The end is near, your stench is clear, some would say revolting
With hollow eyes and languid tail, mottled scales a-molting:
But O fin! fin! fin!
O king, silver, chum, pink, red,
There on the banks my Salmon lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Salmon! dead Salmon! Rise up and take my bait;
Rise up—for you the table’s set—and I must put something on the plate;
For you briquettes and marinades—for you some cedar planking;
For you they call, my dinner guests, hungry now from drinking;
Here Salmon! dear Salmon!
This hook inside your head;
I’ll pass it off that at my hand
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Salmon does not answer, his hump is pale and still;
My Salmon does not feel my snag, he has no pulse nor will.
Manhood anchored safe and sound, the voyage closed and done;
From angling trip, I still return a victorious fisherman;
Relax, O self-respecting Alaskans (who wouldn’t dream of serving spawned out salmon, not even to out-of-towners)!
I’ll just bring back the head,
For in the cooler store-bought decoy Salmon lies,
Filleted and cold and dead.
* With apologies to Walt Whitman and inspired by this past summer’s release of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” a real dead fish if ever there was one