poet Dónall Dempsey

Dónall Dempsey

The Way Of All Flesh

The live fish twitched
shrugged its tail
and seemed to pale.

Just before it lost its head
the fish observed me
with a cold careless eye.

“Do your worse! ” it said
as if it were a British spy
being tortured by a cruel Gestapo.

Brutally decapitated
with a sudden twak

It became just a body
it’s head feasted upon by feral cats who had patiently
waited just for that.

It was now even more deader
if that could possibly be
made more dead by my Auntie’s laughter.

“What’s the matter boy...
did ya think that fish grew on your plate
and that spuds and peas grew on trees? ”

She was pleased with her wit
and laughed uproariously at it.

Her laughter was so alive.

I watched my Auntie’s hand
execute the movements necessary
for a real live fish to become a fish dish.

I felt sick.

Prising the skeleton out

“He won’t be needing these! ”
her laughter wheezed

with the point of the knife

the tip of her tongue
sticking out

in utter concentration
as she made her point.

I gaze fascinated
(all the time whispering to myself
“I hate it! I hate it! ”)

as she sliced through
the fish’s flesh

& flicked its guts
with a deft fleck of her wrist

towards my open mouthed horror:

”Aghh...ugh...aghh! ”
I screamed

as if I were a
Hammer Horror

She laughed like an old time

Sick to death
I wanted nothing more to do
with it.

I felt gutted
& all alone

amazed that the day
was still so bright

amazed that the sun
still shone.

Poem Submitted: Thursday, June 7, 2007
Poem Edited: Wednesday, March 9, 2011

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Comments about The Way Of All Flesh by Dónall Dempsey

  • Gina Pisapia (8/18/2007 2:23:00 PM)

    Oh you are such a veggie. I like meat me! (as they would say in Yorkshire!) Despite this your poem gave me a bit of a twinge and I put the sushi back in the fridge! I was so used to your love poems that a poem about a fish and its death for human consumption took me by surprise. But knowing you and I do..you would probably tell me that it is a love poem for a fish! Yes you would and in your case you would probably be right. Now where did I put my butcher's knife...only joking only joking.


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