2010 Entries

by J.J. Weicker

O Quasimodo of the silver waves,
In life’s renewal we are but brother slaves
From eternity’s pursuit to sandy shoal,
A slide from humpy love to husky’s roll.
O fishy Fate, undone desire writ large,
Your leaping skyward comes to nought but snarge;
Just like my PFD, too soon you’re spent
And form a fetid canine liniment.
In the pink of health and lust, who was the pinker?
We did not see our fall from stud to stinker
And perceived our path divine not biological,
Poor Icarus, now ick ichthyological!
Smeared on dog, your putrid truth will linger:
Time will come God bids me pull His finger.


by Jerry Juday

John: But soft! What splash from yonder stream I hear?
Mary: I know not, my handsome young bushwacker.
John (peering out of tent door): Hark! In the fresh-washed light of morn I do spy the
flashing glint of moistened flanks. (Now pointing.) Yes, there! And there! And there again!
Mary (exasperated): O, foolish man, burdened with wrongheaded desires. Let the wiser
head take control.
John (enthusiastically): Lo, how my bosom swells in anticipation of stealthily stalking the brushy banks, breathing deep the fecund air, then slipping softly on rubbered soles into the intoxicating channel.
Mary: Hush now, husband! Lie back down. My bosom swells for thee. Let us brew our own
intoxication here on this airy love shingle -- my Thermarest. My loins warm it for thee.
John: „Tis sockeye . . . sockeye! The great red swarm has returned to the natal waters to
spawn. Yes, to spawn and to die. Generation after generation, they come to nuzzle the
maternal gravel. Overcoming every obstacle, unrelenting, the throng pushes and thrusts its way home, and so forth and so on, etcetera.
Mary: Yi! The nuzzling sounds good just now.
(A noise is heard, stage left.)
John: What ho? Do I discern the heavy tread of the barbed biped? The anglers are
bestirring; the game is afoot. I must make haste. (He exits the tent.)
Mary: No! Pray sir, I beseech you: do not wet your fly just yet. Leave the salmon in peace to do their spawning. That precious moment of piscine passion is so short, a mere gossamer speck in the ever flowing river of life. Tarry thou by my side just a few minutes more. Think on it, my love, do not the wriggling and the spilling of milt and egg put a notion in your head?
John: Fie, woman! Heed the words of the poet writ here upon my garb: “Ain‟t no nookie
like Chinookie.” The salmon have arrived; the course of my destiny is laid. I am off now, with rod in hand. (He departs.)
Mary (sighing): Alas, the mute salmon speak to him more eloquently than I. Still, the fish remember what he forgets. True beauty is a mate, and a mate is true beauty -- that is all we doomed creatures really know on earth and all we need to know.


by Alexia Gordon

There once was a salmon named Nod
Who had an incredible bod
Lean, swift, and scarlet
With butter and garlic
He tasted much better than cod


by Lynn Lovegreen

Vast ocean journey
Inscrutable birth longings
End in Alaska

We travel so far
To spawn for one brief moment
Life is cruel to us

Beautiful swimmers
What a mystery they are
And good in pasta


by Alexia Gordon

Oh salmon, my salmon
Supreme among the entrees you reign
Baked, poached, grilled, steamed
Dry-smoked or pureed

Rich in omega-threes
So healthy, yet tasty, too
At only $2.99 a pound
Such a bargain

Oh salmon, my salmon
You make me gourmet


by Becca Lawton

(sing to tune of “Ode to Billy Joe” by Bobbie Gentry)

It was July the third, another foggy, sullen summer day.
We were paddling past the tourists who were fishing along the bay.
Then at lunchtime I pulled over to join Arthur, who’d stopped to eat.
And he hollered at the shoreline, “Just remember to watch your feet.”
He said, “I found a carcass, it’s sockeye or maybe it’s chinook.”
And it died before it made it to its home stream in the Lower Cook.

Well, I said to Arthur, as he poked the pink flesh with his paddle,
“You’d better leave it there and let it rot—we’ve got no time to dawdle.
There’s five more miles on the lower sloughs that we’ve got to travel.”
And Arthur said he couldn’t let it lie and just have it unravel.
He said, “You really ought to see this thing, it’s big as Hinchinbrook.”
And he swore he wouldn’t leave dead salmon down along the Lower Cook.

If that salmon had been female on her way to spawn and full of eggs,
you wouldn’t know she had them, they’d decayed into jellied dregs.
I could see it well enough—Arthur’d never get it into his canoe.
If he did, it’d hit the Royalex and spread around like runny glue.
And he was going to make a try for it, though I said I’d much rather book,
when Arthur wouldn’t leave dead salmon down along the Lower Cook.

Now he tried to lift that fish up from shore with one swift paddle scoop,
but it didn’t hold together and it flowed apart like hot, spilled soup.
And he asked if I could help him, maybe shovel up some with my own blade.
But I could see it was a losing proposition, and so away I stayed.
It smelled worse than rotten vomit, it was nothing you’d ever want to hook.
And Arthur and I retched like sickened dogs along the Lower Cook.

Well a year has come and gone since we came upon that smelly corpse.
Arthur scrubbed his boat for weeks but never got it clean of odors.
When he put it up for sale, he didn’t get a single bite—
even later with a “Free” sign, the canoe and its stench sat tight.
And me, any time I pass that shoreline, I make sure not to look
at the scene of decomposing salmon down along the Lower Cook.


by Anonymous

Oh Salmon,
How I loathe your oily, fishy taste.
How I remember the time we camped in Katmai and the freezer broke.
How we feasted on you, morning, noon, and night,
Afraid that you would spoil
And all our efforts would be for naught.

Your oil strengthens the brain and heart,
But no one talks about its effects upon the gut.
How we spent hours in the outhouse
And ran out of toilet paper.


by Anonymous

Man, boundless in mediocrity, gnaws at the knuckle of wild thought.
Jack Crisp, River Notebook

Do not deny the urgency of oranges,
The depth (Nay, height!) of scaled notes,
Of Lucifer’s luminescence, Pan’s simmering oils.

Fate’s fine jumper of no faint fall,
Master of the sequined quest,
A lessor god in spangled coat.

Streams pool to sooth the hollow of his night.
Netted by circumstance. Hooked by chance.
Dusty pages of his water dance slam shut.

The circling eagle bears extravagant witness.
The hare in its claw screams irony and
Compassionate stars spin concentric circles.

Finally. Finally! Served in the day room.
Served up in the day room. Alas!

Grace chimes, Gentle Reader. No. Grace bellows!
The fallen bounder (He(!), of wave and slough)
Needles with pin bones and each prick sounds –
An urgent oration of accusation and awe.


by Alexia Gordon

“He’s dead, all right, deader than a doornail. He smells like three day old fish.”
“That’s because he is a fish, Pete, and he’s been dead for three days.”
We were staring at the body of King “Cock” Salmon, once upon a time the baddest fish in the Kenai River. He controlled all the rackets on the Peninsula—numbers, protection, loan sharking, roe smuggling—anything that would make a dishonest fish a buck. Now he was just another piece of chum rotting away in a back room in a nameless flop house in the red gill district.
“Who do you think did it, Mac? Coho’s gang? Or maybe the Sockeyes?”
“Damned if I know, Pete. Ol’ King had a lot of enemies.”
As if on cue the door swung open and Sparrow Fox stepped into the room. Sparrow was Cock’s long-time companion, although what a gorgeous bird like her saw in a fish like him was anybody’s guess.
“Don’t come any closer, Sparrow,” I said. “You don’t want to see this.”
She kept coming. Pete hurried over and got a grip on a wing.
“Just hold on a second, sister.”
“He’s dead, isn’t he?” she asked, tears welling in her eyes.
“Yeah, he’s dead. What do you know about it?”
“Take it easy, Pete. No need to ruffle her feathers.”
“I think she knows more than she’s letting on, Mac. I say we take her back to the station. A couple of hours in the cage, we’ll make her squawk.”
Sparrow pulled free of Pete’s grasp. “No, not that, please. I couldn’t stand it.”
She turned away and covered her face. Sobs wracked her pretty shoulders. I went to her and put my arm around her. She rested her head against my chest.”
“Careful, Mac,” said Pete, “She’ll wrinkle your suit.”
I gave Pete the look he deserved.
“You’re not falling for this, are you, Mac? That bird’s crying crocodile tears sure as I’m standing here.”
“Why don’t you shut yer yap, Pete? Can’t you see she’s all broken up over this?”
“Can’t you see she’s putting you on? I bet she knows who did it. I bet it was that no-good brother of hers, what’s his name, Dog House Fox.”
Sparrow’s head snapped up. She shot Pete a look meaner than the one I’d given him. “His name’s Todd. And he’s no killer.”
“Nah, he’s a regular altar boy. Guess that wasn’t him who got busted at the Hen House Club last week.”
Sparrow grabbed my lapels. “Please, Mac,” she pleaded, “You’ve always been so kind to me.”
I put my hands on her shoulders and took a step back. I had a hunch that I’d better keep this chick at arm’s length. “Sparrow,” I said, “if your brother’s mixed up in this you can’t protect him. If you know something you’re not telling us—“
Sparrow looked away. “I confess, Mac, I did it.”
I tightened my grip on her shoulders. I wanted to shake her. “Sparrow, taking the rap for your brother—“
She turned her face towards me. As soon as I looked into her eyes I knew she was telling the truth.
“It was I,” said Sparrow. “With my dip net and club, I killed Cock Salmon.”
“Why, Sparrow, why?”
“I had no choice, Mac, you must believe me. “
“I thought you loved him,” said Pete.
“What’s love got to do with it? King was blackmailing me. I was the one who set Papa Bear up to take the fall during that berry heist six months ago. King threatened to turn me over to the Grizzlies if I didn’t—if I didn’t—oh, it’s too terrible.” Sparrow hung her head. “I had to kill him, don’t you see?”
“Murder’s never the answer, Sparrow. You should have come to me. I could have protected you.”
“Protect me now, Mac. It’s not like I killed a good fish. No one will miss him.”
I put my fingers under her chin and tilted her face up. I wanted one last look into those soft brown eyes. “I’m sorry, sugar, but you killed King and you’re going over for it. If they don’t hang you by that pretty neck, maybe I’ll be waiting for you when you get out. Take her away, Pete.”
Pete put cuffs on her and hustled her out of the room. I followed, pausing in the doorway to take a last look at Cock. Poor dead salmon. Sparrow was right. No one would miss him. No one would shed a tear for him, not even a crocodile one.


by Anonymous

Oh deceived dead salmon, I truly never thought
That by Alaska’s Mama Grizzly, you would ever be caught
Not by her paws, did you meet your demise
This mama bear just destroyed you with lies

As you were swimming, she began her instigation
Announcing you were heading to the wrong destination
And little did you then realize that she was just stringing you along
When she said, "Mama Bears kinda just know when something is wrong"

"Follow me," she shouted, "I can be your new leader"
Oh, how tragic it was when you decided to heed her
For she convinced many fish to abandon their schools
Saying their lives would be better with much fewer rules

So you and some other salmon just altered your course
Trusting Mama Grizzly instead of avoiding that source
Dazzled by her looks, you just couldn’t see
How her speeches were dripping with hypocrisy

She promised you a life - independent, hale and hearty
With a place for each salmon at her favorite tea party
She said she wouldn’t hurt you because she preferred honey
But the truth of it is, , she was more enchanted by money

Mama Grizzly didn’t believe very much in sharing
And for you, poor salmon, there wasn’t much caring
But you just couldn’t see her egocentric condition
Nor the extent of this grizzly bear’s true ambition

"Every salmon for himself," said Mama Grizzly, said she
"Fish in need will get no help - not from me nor from thee"
But you worshiped her, dear salmon, till a disease in your bone
Left you hurting and helpless as you struggled alone

What’s happening?" you cried, "Has my bone been infected
By another oil leak which those humans have neglected?
She replied as you died, "If the oil’s gonna getcha
It’s the government’s fault. Doggone it! You betcha"