Clade Song 12 left

Clade Song 12

The Largest Goldfish in the Smallest Bowl

They have not suspended the sea lion shows.
The dolphins are still hitting balls with their noses,
making that ratcheting noise on command.
The audience still applauds
and they get fish every time.

The cotton candy still costs seven dollars too much
and some idiot
is still trying to feed the stingrays his pocket change.
The treatment of mammals
continues to be called conditioning
The penguins
still don’t belong in Florida,
but everything is different.

Now the whale shows will be called
educational encounters.
Now the tiny holding tanks will be called
open ocean habitats.
Now the dead trainers
will be called sleeping
will be called glimmers
will be called nothing at all.

Where once
they said release into the wild
would be inhumane
Now they say the same thing.
Now they are raising the price of cotton candy
to cover the declining ticket sales.
Now they are rethinking
the decision to open
a marine life park in Ohio.
Now they are rebranding themselves
as OceanWorld, as Sealand,
as anything that won't
come back as regret.

They are putting the orcas
on a vegan diet.
They have have repainted
the white lines yellow
on the black parking lot
They have doubled the number
of giant squids in the gift shop
and changed the logo to something
less species-specific.

The star of the show
was always a killer whale
until it became one
until it showed a hint
of the fearsome nature
for which it was already famous.

Now it is sequestered in a tiny pool.
Now the main attraction is invisible
The same creature, but different
Now it is the mammal
more mistaken for a fish than ever before,
the one the VIPs all ask to see
behind the door marked
No Admittance.

They are still rapping on the glass
right next to the signs
that say not to.
They are still feeding dead fish
one at a time
to a mammal that prefers live penguins
and baby seals.
They still insist isolation is humane.

It is still not sorry.
It does not care about reputation,
or whether you call it orca instead.
It has ceased to wonder
whether they will allow it to breed again,
if there will be another crowd to applaud
one day
when it touches the ball with its nose.

They say the killer whale is dying.
A rare infection of the lungs.
To think
that subtle trivia
and notoriety
would take hold with such vigor.
Assiduous motes, of all things,
so impossible to kill.

Clade Song 12 Right

Christopher Clauss is an introvert, Ravenclaw, father, poet, and middle school science teacher from Chesterfield, NH. He has represented New Hampshire six times at the National Poetry Slam as a member of the Slam Free or Die poetry slam team.  His work explores the bliss and turmoil of faith, teaching, parenting, marriage, and community in rural New Hampshire, as well as the obligatory science and nonsense. Christopher’s poems have been published in New York Quarterly, Plants and Poetry Journal, Sylvia, and Bureau of Complaint.  His mother believes his poetry is "just wonderful." Both of his daughters declare that he is the "best daddy they have," and his pre-teen science students rave that he is "Fine, I guess.  Whatever."




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