The microcosm of that poem is not only the surreally imaged underwater world it depicts, bound by "the iron edge / of the cliff," but the delicate, and quite rigidly made, ecosystem of the form within which the expressive life of sentences reside. Here are the opening stanzas (the title provides the first words of the first sentence):
through black jade.
Of the crow-blue mussel-shells, one keeps
adjusting the ash-heaps,
opening and shutting itself like
The barnacles which encrust the side
of the wave, cannot hide
there for the submerged shafts of the...
(Read the rest here.)
To help our students understand the material qualities of the language Moore uses, and of the language they use everyday, we asked them to work together or alone to make imitations of "The Fish," using the same syllable count and end-rhymes as the poem. Here is some of what they made:
A logo's drab
location at the front of the brain
settle soft tissue plane,
manifesting business destiny.
ty of car
drivers slapped with something to eat,
Wear, watch, love, look, see, meet
the farmers you want to have relations with —
both dichotomy and
priced by dollar store sticker tags.
cle of serv-
ices elegantly formed in
burrito that sounds so good right now.
— Jared Sumners, Jenna Schmidt
day and night
to keep the chicks always so safe,
as they hide from the waves
of the other birds looking for homes.
bird’s eyes flee
from place to place, in search of food and
enemies that may stand
between him and the chicks needing care.
bird’s wings speed
through the air, with the wind down under,
like when the Wright brothers
changed the sky, giving men bird’s-eye views.
bird’s feet leave
the ground after hugging some unlucky
now-dead life. Luckily,
the chicks can eat to live like the bird.
- Jesse Fowler
helps you think.
strong and black, or light and sugary --
waking up your brain to start the day
you don't want to get up but have to.
The pot grumbles to you
that you're late already, so get up.
percolating, French-roast dirt-water
drips as you pour, hotter
on hand than in cup or on the floor.
The mild drug has done its duty of
enabling you to love
the world and people you see and meet.
- Abby Blake, Hannah Brown, Melanie Kim
as we make
up after our heated argument,
ignoring what we meant
when we said we couldn’t go on.
As smoke is rising from the iron,
“How could I ever earn
your time and your love and your respect?
ed, I am syrup in a divot.
You’re an iron rivet.
So, eat up—that’s what I am here for.”
- Megan Brady, Sharayah Hooper
through the haze
as the evening approaches. The dark-
ening woods leave their mark
on her pale, luminescent features.
runs from the
evil which follows her everywhere.
Her feet, the dress, her hair
entangle with elements of
They draw near
As they hear the thief in the moonlight.
- Jill White, Alessi Debartolo, Olivia O'Brien
but almost gone.
Constellations arranged the order
to give the disorder
of sleep upon clementine bedsheets.
brought inside from a childhood memory.
Outside common reverie;
the bright mass to be mounted upon the wall.
- Destiny Gough, Krystyny Vandenberg, Jessica Dueker
with much borne.
Secrets carried on sleepy shoulders,
books and bulging folders.
Threadbare canvas carries a life’s work.
- Annika Tuttle, Katie Tuttle, Megan Van Vlear
with black fuzz.
delivering a pollen package
like mailmen with baggage,
making hexagon cubicles as
For calling you pudgy faced, you sting
and with attack, you bring
burning and suicidal death. You
you can't fly.
- Jordan Wilson, Hope Daley, Dani Isaacs