Tricks for Fish


What could you live without?

That name you’re wearing

on your person.

That place that you claim

to be from.

That face you wear

when you’re in public.

If you could

would you walk away?

Trade your fame

for an escape?

Break the deal

that you made.

Could you leave

the grand parade?

Or do you perform

at six and ten?

No way around it.

sentient, intelligent,

taken out of your element.

Confined to a tiny space,

where everybody knows you.

Could you live without

all of this?

Just doing tricks for fish.

You don’t belong here.

We both know that.

You’re trapped behind

clear, glass habitat.

Not where you came from

not what you were made for.

A victim of circumstance.

Trafficked and paid for.

Your face on a sports card,

your name on a marquee,

an audience that goes home

and regards you darkly.

Perform on demand.

Dance for the fans.

We tell them,

“Don’t feed the animals.”

“Don’t tap on the glass.”

While you’re told that

you’re famous.

You’re told that you’re rich.

You’re in in five minutes,

doing tricks for fish.

Show up,

do well,

and you’ll be fed.

Just forget about the ocean,

or the life you could have led.

We raised you in captivity,

so we can worship celebrity.

We could live without all of this.

No more tricks.



DJR – 2023

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