Cheryl A. Rice: “Remember the Goldfish Will Be Dead By Morning”





Remember the Goldfish Will Be Dead By Morning, 

as will the thready cobwebs of carnival light
strung above scraps of pavement
that’s seen better days, industrious employees
parking in a fresh lot, neatly painted
plots from end to end,
paint now faded, workers retired,
transferred or deceased.
In the morning, stars will have moved on
to other fairs, or the other side of the globe,
rides beyond not yet unplugged,
not yet spattered with vomit and sweat,
freshly hosed, engines revving.
In the morning, somewhere, there is popcorn
waiting to be heated, holding explosions
tight inside their vegetal chests.
Lemons are being sliced, water chilled,
hot dogs start their hours-long sauna.
But here in our town, all that remains
are tire tracks on the ballfield,
garbage drums full of discarded soda cups,
French fry boats anointed with catsup,
napkins cycling in the breeze.
The sun surveys the damage.
Crews pick debris from the ground,
recycling antics be damned.
And that goldfish you won
tossing rings at impossible pins?
The one you carefully slipped in an empty beer stein
when you got home late, so as to not wake him?
He’s been dead for hours, floating in
glass and baggie, back to tank, egg, essence,
gold all that remains by morning,
a sort of orange sunrise to remind the masses
of reflective vests, steel-toed boots,
the circle of days that we swim around,
in our own bags, without air,
with too much light.



About the Author: Cheryl A. Rice’s poems have appeared in Home Planet News, Baltimore Review, Up The River, and Misfit Magazine, among others. Recent books include Love’s Compass (Kung Fu Treachery Press), and Until the Words Came (Post Traumatic Press), coauthored with Guy Reed. Her blog is at: Rice lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.


Image Credit: Image originally from Annual report 8th; 9th (New York State Forest, Fish and Game Commission) (1902-1903) Image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

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