The Poetry Project

from “to market”

Morgan Võ


the monger stops the janitor
for a chat

this one’s salmon
this one’s tuna
this one’s halibut
these are sardines

this one’s cod
these are anchovies
this one’s herring
this one’s a mackerel

this one’s Mahi-Mahi
this one’s John Dory
this one’s turbot
this one’s black cod

this one’s skipjack
this one’s Arctic char
this one’s red snapper
this one’s a sea bream

and this one is a sea bass

the janitor squints

looks like fish to me

big push broom shuttling the
scales away


he clutches three in each hand

he sneers and they cower
they sneer and he howls

rose tinted drippings
the sound of a zipper

he whispers

manchester plays
oxford today

bloody bastards
better win

and they cheer


a fish wrapped in newspaper
given to the baby to read

the oldest and slowest wisdoms
the baby acknowledged with a cry

shelter! she shrieked find shelter!
pressing fish to cheek

the prisoner of love continued
freshly rotting each new day


by accident or mistake
one of the fish
gets shuffled in with the cash

the monger fails to notice
a clammy white tail
poking out from his wallet

the banker takes it
she washes her hands but
does that after every touch

the atm passes it out

in just one week
the fish is used to pay for

an oil change
a bag of candy
a seafood platter
tickets to Black Adam
a discount prescription for albuterol
discount ammo
lavender-scented candles
a toll

weeks and months
and years go by

the fish gets worn in two
then taped together again
and never retires


they’re still alive?!

the monger’s wife asked

not exactly

the monger replied

its just that they keep
eating and shitting

well why do you keep
feeding them?!

his wife asked

because they keep eating!

the monger screamed
angling back in his chair

Work from The Art of Accumulation with Vi Khi Nao