Are not trash, but fish:
Scup, dogfish, wolf eel, skate; sand dabs, lion fish, monkfish (aka “allmouth;” aka “sea devil”); the sea robin, blood clams, rainbow smelt; leather jacket (Oligoplites saurus), sheepshead, barrelfish, almaco jack;
Triggerfish, pink porgy, spinycheek scorpionfish; finger squid, goldeye tilefish, “the amusingly named” mother-in-law; butterfish, pin bream, mangrove snapper; bigeye, redhorse suckers;
Rosebud seabass; the blue runner, redfish (unusual for giving birth to live young); the lake sturgeon, bowfin, big mouth buffalo, black
Drum, flounder; longtail bass, queen snapper, bull head cats; the white grunt. Whether dragged in nets, hooked on trots, or farm-
Raised; whether bow-shot, by-caught, or reeled: no longer “underappreciated,” but still unappreciated, even, or perhaps especially, by those who value them for “food,” by scientists looking for collagens, sportsmen seeking a challenge, restaurateurs in quest of novel ceviches, hipsters out for kicks, and other motherfuckers
Who would kill and swallow, play locavore, or create a market for the unmarketable, a fashion for the unfashionable, or who say they wish
To eat “low on the food chain,” but not low enough to let them be. And what to do with carp? Do nothing and, like Hippocrates, do no harm.
Writer's Statement: Several fish in this poem can be spotted in the waters of New York City beside the bull head catfish and carp, which live in the Bronx River among other places. Starting from City Island in the Bronx, you can find skates, sand dabs, sea robin, and flounder in the submerged bottom habitat of Long Island Sound. In more open waters you’ll find monkfish, dogfish, butterfish, and scup, though not the pink porgy, which is found in warmer waters. People have also seen black drum. The white grunt makes an occasional appearance. Once plentiful, the sheepshead is still occasionally found in Sheepshead Bay.
Robert Farrell lives and works as a librarian in the Bronx, New York. His essays have appeared in various publications including photographer Erik Madigan Heck's Nomenus Quarterly. He will be attending the Ashbery Home School poetry workshop in the summer of 2015.