The Things We Do To Fish, Poetry by Paul Tapp

Genre: Philosophical

The Things We Do To Fish
by Paul Tapp

I dreamt I held a tiny whale
In the palm of my big hand
Its vulnerable belly soft and pale
Its life or death at my command.

Now I could never in all my life
Ever harm a whale
Yet in my dreams, I took a hook
And its belly did impale.

What possess-ed me to do this thing
I’ll never really know
But the haunting of its anguish
Follows where’ere I go.

I find it now impossible
To go fishing by the book
And thread a bait from eye to tail
On glinting Mustad hook.

We all and one
In pursuit of fun
Are guilty of the sin
Of committing heinous cruelty
To our brethren of the fin.

We drag them from their firmament
Drown them in the air
Corralled and crushed and boiled alive
And no-one seems to care.

And neither I took heed of it
Until this haunting dreaming
Of a tiny whale in my big hand:
Bleeding, pleading, screaming.
I never now use living bait
And never let for death long wait
Nor slice their fins before the throat
Nor with celebrating buddies gloat
At flapping prize
With fearful, glazed and staring eyes.

And never when I get serious
With Chardonnay imperious
And prawns and crabs and scallops all
Heaped upon my dish
I never dare reflect upon
The things we do to fish.

* * * * *
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  1. I went into a brumby (wild Australian horse) export slaughterhouse, Christie, in the Northern Territory. It was quite a terrible sight. Outside they were in corrals waiting to go in, territorial stallions, fighting each other for the mare herds; not knowing their fate just inside the walls; beautiful, untamed white wild, proud and noble stallions…with a dozen slaughtermen waiting to stun them with electricity and carve them up for human consumption and canned dog food. Such memories turn us into poets, for there is nothing more we can do but lament our commercial dependence on beautiful animals. Yet I still eat meat, love lamb chops and fish, but could never eat horse.Thanks for your lovely comment. Paul.


  2. I must also add that when I do catch fish, I quickly kill them and apologise to each of them: “sorry little buddy”.


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