Still Life With Fish


The people on the bus go up and down…

Those imagined myriad first choices:
astronaut, fireman, cowboy, hero.
A child’s view of infinite possibility.

So many corners to turn, paths to take.
The smiling illusions of Free Will.

And then arrives the Great Settling.
The dawning middle age of mediocrity.

A turnpike with only one terminal exit.
An awful Interstate leading to nowhere.
An exercise in the only ordinary.
The dominoes that tumble as they must.
A long swim through a drying swamp.

Apprehension and unhappiness.
Hoarded secret humiliations.
The un-beautiful bodies creaking.
A clamorous anticipation of pain.
Mostly misunderstood mysteries.
An emptiness that drives everything.

Not one life chosen from many offered,
but one life offered from none chosen.
A random smattering of lonely events.

Until fixed in its finally failed tableau,
a fish trapped in a dying mud puddle
with with sad, shrunken boundaries,
with nowhere left to swim at all.


Mike Essig

Photo credit : shuttershock