Working of the Tide and Fighting Animals

Working of the Tide

Couples walk in circles

on the pier, watching the fishermen

fishing. In one bucket two

queenfish lie on top of each other–

still, than sporadically twitching.

Gills opening closing

opening closing again

like a broken accordion sucking

inaudible air. A gull sits on top

a light post like a vulture,

its eyes fixed on a man

gutting a tom cod

with a dull army knife.

He sticks the metal into the belly,

cuts a jagged line

to the throat, then digs

for the excess and innards.

Those exposed remains.

Scale, gut, and spine tossed

in the porcelain sink,

thick blood trudging

down the drain.


Let’s get away from that scene,

Let’s go inside where

it’s warm and smells of incense.

Let’s forget what

we’ve just witnessed.

Pick up that pink conch

and put the smooth opening against

your elfish ear and listen to its echoes:

not of the ocean below us,

but that circular drone

that takes you there

beneath the surface

and opens your eyes to the deep

water that is surrounding you.


Fighting Animals

It’s finding the right

voice for the situation.

Screaming fire in a public house

and watching people hustle,

their hooves cracking down

on bone and unknown

flesh. A roaring lioness

commanding the death of an infant

elephant splashing in a shallow oasis.

Sharks swimming circles

around a marooned poet

meditating on a floating raft.


Men round up cattle.

Mouths whistling, lasso,

and dull spurs.

A bronze thigh the size

of a torso buckshots into

a man’s gut and leaves

him lying flat on the dirt

as he sees the sun disappear

and says to himself,

It can’t go too far, you know?

– Poems by Abraham Kim

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