Ode to a Dead Salmon: The Finalists

Here it is, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Thanks to authors Bill Sherwonit, Nancy Lord, and our own Andromeda Romano-Lax for narrowing the field of fine entries in our Ode to a Dead Salmon contest.

Submissions came from around the world, including Hawaii, Malta (where we’re told there are no salmon), and the Lower Forty-eight as well as Alaska. “This really was fun,” wrote one contestant. “I vote for more silly contests.” Another said, “It was fun writing this poem. I was supposed to be writing seriously but got sidetracked on the internet.” Sidetracked? We like to think of it as expanding your creative vision. Besides, what other quick, fun diversion offers the chance to win an autographed Ray Troll t-shirt of your choice?

Now, dear readers, in the interest of all stinky writing, here is your task. Posted below, in reverse order by date received, are the three finalists. Have a look, then cast a vote for your favorite in the right sidebar poll. You can vote for your own entry, but only one vote per reader, please. Voting closes Monday, August 24 at 8 a.m.

“Ode to Stinkin’”

Dead salmon in the middle of the path stinking to high heaven—Ancient folk song (Circa, 1973).

O Humpy! An eagle dropped you in the park,
a cyclist ran over you in the dark.
O beautiful salmon! Putrefied and parched
atop you a hundred tourists marched.

And there you decayed and stank in the sun,
when I happened on you during a morning run.
I paused to move you from the path
so as not to encounter a bruin’s wrath.

But then, O Humpy! I saw your eyes
and thought you must have once been wise.
to swim so far from the ocean’s deep,
navigating currents your scent did keep.

You finned and spermed in the riverbed
and left your babies on the mud-bank’s edge.
Sad now, though, those sloughing scales,
but your end is better than my own sad tale.

O Humpy! I buried you beside the trail
and then at once I started to wail.
See, I’d been out there runnin’ and a thinkin’
about my ole’ man and all his drinkin’.

Bout how his eyes are glossy and thick
and when he smooches me, I just feel sick.
His hugs feel more like a nasty squish,
no six-pack abs as I’d once wished.

O Splendid Humpy!
Lover or fish, does it really matter?
Seems I’d rather smell the rot of the latter.
But what’s an Alaskan girl to think

cause after a while—they all start to stink.

“Why as a Mighty Salmon I Will Not Leave”

Do not cry for me, I shall not leave
those who share my love
my spawn
I swim against the great river that is ours thereon

‘neath soaring peaks and o’er frost heaves
put here to remind that I am me
why I am me
that I am humbly great

Nature calls me to my dream so that my scales slip off the sexist critique
(for the fact that I have eggs and vast stores of oil)
and like chill water off the feathers of the migratory goose so courageously
corruptions of an evil coast elite

so shall I too defy the hooks and devious nets of socialist media
who seek to fillet and hang me to dry
but I shall never die

I repel those maggots and sea lice that infest
by leaps across the surge chill waters pure
very like brave soldiers sent to save our cherished Land

not fish but woman and man
for I am best
and writhe against cruel microscopes of logic choppers
scientists who work for godless enemy’s behest
Their secret motives bald
but mightier than they for I am called
I will not decay yet I shall spawn
and swim against the flow ’til all else is gone

“Oh Dear Deceased Chum”

Oh dear deceased Chum , ’tis such a mournful thing
That you were never loved like the Alaskan King
For it is his remains that connoisseurs have selected
While your poor body has been quickly rejected

So now as I gaze into your vacant eyes
What your life was like , I can only surmise
But it must have begun with a spawning ritual
That would be for your parents, never habitual

With their bodies quivering next to one another
Your dad did his thing and so did your mother
So did they say to you, “Little Egg”, before they died
“The sex was disappointing but at least we tried”

You hatched as an orphan with orphan siblings galore
And you grew and swam aimlessly not far from the shore
But did you wonder at all before your migration
What would be your journey toward self-actualization?

Was it perhaps in the ocean when you felt most alive?
Did you then wonder toward which goal you should strive?
Did other sea creatures laugh at you with mirth
When you decided to return to the place of your birth

Against many obstacles you struggled and won
You swam back to the place where your life had begun
But then you did that spawning thing and started to die
Preparing yourself for that sweet fishy bye and bye

But now your sad corpse lies on a food market shelf
Where a beautiful King salmon is compared to yourself
And a poor Chum salmon just cannot compete
In flavor, in texture, and especially in meat

Oh will you be remembered in your children’s genealogy?
As a very inferior salmon in the world’s ichthyology?
Yet although you were rejected, you are not a total loss
Because you’re really not so bad, with enough tartar sauce

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