top of page

Fish Song

Frank Mackey

Wherein Coelecanth Botemfieder coaxes his son to leave the lagoon,

crawl up on land, evolve, you know, be a man

If only fish could talk, then men could not –

it stands to reason. And if fish could only talk,

they couldn’t swim or do

the other swimmy things fish do.

I wouldn’t wish that on a fish, but you,

my son, are cut out for bigger things.

You’ve got no fins to hold you back

but legs, or whatever you call

those stubby things with toes,

& a tongue that wags & speaks & sings –


I mean, say you stay a fish for life,

no one will give a thought to what

you want for Christmas. Ask Santa Claus

who’s on his list – there’s not one damn fish on it.

Oh yeah, fish have schools all right –

with no teachers & no gyms, so we miss

out on sex ed, fizz ed, dodge-ball,

everything & nothing ... It’s pathetic.

You can always spot a fish in class

– can’t read, count, draw, ass around.

Fish just hangs there, soaking wet,

watching plankton bits float by

on his underwater TV set

or whatever turns his crank. That’s why

fish never make it past First Grade,

man. They tank. Except for sharks –

I hear they go to Harvard – & the odd eel

that slips into business school.

The most we can hope for is to grow up

to be fillets, making nice with peas who think

we taste like chicken or, you know,

other squishy dudes who see us

as silly sushi wannabes.

You could take fish shopping,

but what’s the point? Shoes, shirts, pants, a coat –

dressed fish don’t float my boat.

And upscale bistros don’t serve fish

if they can help it, because we’re

such sloppy eaters. We lie there naked,

sometimes breaded, flap our tails,

swallow spoons, shed a scale or two

& never pay, or tip the waiters

’cause we’re fish. So we get the table

by the kitchen, if we don’t end up

in the soup. Let me tell you, life absolutely

sucks when you’re a total carp

or reasonable facsimile.

Go on, get up there. Live on land.

When you get settled, drop us a line.

26 views3 comments


Sounds awfully fishy to me, Frank. Welcome aboard the S.S. Minnow!


Pre-humanity? Your description also applies to what my grandson gingerly refers to as my "friend group" down at the mall food court. More like post-humanity.

bottom of page