The Intelligence of Fish


Gizmodo Australia

This is day 16 of Days of Unreason:

“We walk the bottom of an ocean we call sky.” – Jim Harrison


The ocean
a swamp

in celebratory indolence,
the denizens ingested
polluted scat everywhere dropt.

Should I swim
along the dividing currents?

Is a school the answer; safety in ignorance?

Why fly
in fear like minnows and krill
into the jaws that bite;
the sharks who kill?

Since I see
the predators of the reef and know
to avoid
the dangerous shoals, I will split
with fish who skitter and fret.

around the hungry Dorado, or fleeing
blindly from threats imagined,
is no way for an intelligent ocean dweller to live.


A little over a year ago, I joined Jillys2016 in a challenge called “28 Days of Unreason.”  She culled quotes from the poems of Jim Harrison in a book called Songs of Unreason.  We used the quotes as prompts; diving boards suspended over the abyss of poetry.  Jill is revisiting unreason, and I am skipping gleefully along.  Come and join the fun!


14 thoughts on “The Intelligence of Fish

      • Yes, everyone has an agenda, is selling eyeballs and clicks. Can’t be helped, nature of things. So have to think for ourselves, do the work. And write poems where we weigh out what we might know!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Had to Google “eyeballs and clicks.” Believe it or not, I’m almost media free… except when I step in for a moment to do critical reading. I agree with what you said… now that I understand it.


  1. Eat or be eaten – no way to live indeed. Fleeing the shoals of ignorance – to where? Dorado, named after a swordfish? Where is safety in the Universe made up of thousands of galaxies upon galaxies? This makes one feel rather small – and scatty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, there is a lovely BBC Earth video where Dorado are pursuing flying fish. The flying fish escape the treacherous waters, only to land in the beaks of Frigate Birds! Radicals on one side; radicals on the other…. 🙂


  2. Wow, Charley, there is so much here.
    “Becalmed in celebratory indolence, the denizens ingested polluted scat everywhere dropt.” I must be careful here, but I do see a celebration of indolence in my line of work – doing just enough to get by and congratulating their peers on doing the same. That leads to a lack of critical thinking which leads to being fed a diet of scat. Also, that last line about fleeing imagined threats – there is a great deal of that going on right now. ‘Nuf said. Excellent write and that picture is perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

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