Sunday, August 06, 2006

Walking around in a song

I feel like I never quite left Thursday, that I'm still stuck there, that I'd like to go back. The whole day never came together, fractious, fractured. A new poem got sidelined by the procession of people and events, all the disruptions that seemed to parade through. As a digression, writing parade makes me think of a Czeslaw Milosz (or as Rodney Jones used to say, Coleslaw Meatloaf) reading I was at once, where, between poems, out of the blue, a giant marching band began honking and stomping by; he really didn't know what to say: we just watched the band pass by through the large windows. Anyway, I'm feeling disjointed and the sensation won't go away.


One of my fish is dying. My oldest, six years old, which really is very respectable for a store bought comet goldfish. Kidney failure, so he's swelling up and his scales are prickling out from his body so he looks like a pinecomb. I hate this part: you'd take a dog or cat to have them put to sleep but with a fish you don't really do that. I mean, there are various suggested methods: freezing, for example, the idea being they go into shock, slowly, until they're unconscious, until they're frozen dead. Other people suggest cutting the head off. Quick, instant, not exactly clean, but decisive. I'm not going to do either so I guess it will linger, unable to regulate the amount of water in its body.

I'm down about this. I bought him out of some crappy pet store in Tuscaloosa, small, mostly white with some orange. He grew to be over six inches long with white and red patterning. I transported him back here in a water cooler, with a little battery powered air pump clipped to the side. Good grief.


I watched The Insider again. What a great movie.


There's a certain poetry magazine that took two poems from me the first time I ever sent them anything. I was amazed. One of those poems they've used for other projects. Yet everything I've sent since has been rejected, including the ones I got back yesterday. And I've sent better poems. I'm not upset. It's fine. It's just evidence of how unpredictable, unknowable, this thing is.


Ask me a question. Anything.


Diane K. Martin said...

Po biz is unpredictable -- and so are goldfish. We had goldfish (or my son did when he lived with us) that just died, no fault of ours. There was another, named Freddy that lived for years and years. He had a habit of sucking on gravel, as fish do, and getting a large gravel piece stuck in his jaw. Told that he would die of starvation if it were not removed, John, my husband, would catch and hold him, and I would take a tweezers and yank the stone out. I think we did this about 20 times over the course of Freddy's life.

Julia said...

Here's a question for you:

Would you rather spend the rest of your life sweating parmesan cheese or sneezing grape-sized marbles?


I had a friend who watched her roommate kill a goldfish by pouring Kool-Aid powder into the water. It didn't take long for it to work.

It's not a suggestion, but a sad memory that your sad predicament stirred up.

Montgomery Maxton said...

What color is your favorite blanket?

Melanie said...

You make me miss my frog.

cornshake said...

awww...your fish "looks like a pinecone," sad. poor little thing...

jim said...

what is the air speed velocity of a swallow?

fish's what they do.

i once gave a reading at a little coffee fact it was the first time i read in public. and in the middle of one of my poems, a phone starting ringing (this was well before the invention of cell phones) -- and it rang and rang...and so i added a line to the poem (the poem is long gone in the grave of unsaved poems) about a phone ringing...but a band playing, that is something entirely different

Penultimatina said...

I'm so sad about your fish. :(

None of mine stuck around long enough to really get attached to.


Heather said...

Many questions:

1: How do you know that the fish has kidney failure?

1a. If it had cancer, would it look different?

1b. Can fish get cancer?

2. Why, even though I know better, do I get all weirded out by Apocolypse people?

3. What was your favorite tv show of the mid 1980s?

LKD said...

Good grief. (smile) I thought only Charlie Brown said that. Do you say "rats!" too?

This post makes me sad, Paul. It's hard to watch something or somebody you love die. I'm glad to know though that you won't be freezing your fish or beheading him. Dying is a part of life. Maybe it's better if we aren't so eager to hasten the process.

Which leads to my question. I don't expect you'll have an answer, but I'll ask anyway. Everyone's always asking: What's the meaning of life? I guess I'd like to know what the meaning of death is.

Ah, it's silly, I know, but you watching your fish die (does he have a name?) reminds me of the three days I watched my father die.

Paul said...

Julia: I guess because I'm moderately vain I'd rather sneeze grape-sized marbles than sweating parmesan cheese. And vanity aside, the sweating of cheese just sounds terrifying.

Paul said...

MM: hunter green.

Paul said...

Jim, is it an African or European swallow?

Paul said...


1. I don't "know" that it's kidney failure, I'm not a vet or anything, of course, but I know a ton of stuff about what can go wrong with fish, diseases, etc., and the symptoms here are pretty unmistakeable.

1b. Fish can get cancer.

2. Because Apocalypse people are freaky?

3. Manimal! Ok, not really, but I wish.

Paul said...

Laurel, I can neither confirm nor deny whether I say 'rats.' ;)

The fish's name is Ollie, named by the girl I was dating at the time.

Justin Evans said...


Have you ever lost the emotional connection with your writing, and if so, how did you get it back?

I am working on a 10 month separation, and I am about to go stir-crazy.

Sam of the ten thousand things said...

You're stranded on an island -- forever -- but you have a cd player, dvd player...

You're allowed on book, one dvd, and one music cd.

What are they?

Sandra said...

My mother killed her goldfish with Kool-Aid also, but not intentionally--she was only a child, and thought the fish would enjoy the red color. Wrote a poem about it a long time ago.

I, on the other hand, had a very beloved fighting Beta named Beowulf. We used to do road trips together when I'd come home on breaks from college; I had finally learned the trick of seatbelting in his bowl. I had the bad habit of scooping him out of his bowl with a Dixie cup when it was time to clean the gravel, and leaving him in the confines of the little cup for a a few minutes. Sure enough, one day I turned and left the bathroom for a minute and--!--he jumped out of the cup. I came back to find him flopping on the bathmat.

Things could be worse; you could inadvertently drive your fish to suicide. Poor Beowulf.

Justin Evans said...


Thank you for stopping by. I really appreciate your taking a bit of time to think about my question and get back to me.