The Sick Shark


A sick shark landed on the shore.
There was a crowd around him.
He was still thrashing about. No one
got too near him, except for a boy who
kept poking the shark with a stick. ‘Leave
that poor shark alone,’ someone cried out.
‘Let him die in peace.’ ‘I’m just
deactivating his killer instincts, so
he doesn’t roll over and take another
victim,’ the boy said. ‘Didn’t you see Jaws?’
‘He’s only a baby,’ the bystander said.
‘Are you responsible for the bad things
your parents might have done?’ The boy
threw away the stick, because he knew
he could not use it anymore. The bystander
grabbed the shark by the head. Another person
held on to the tail. A third person held
the shark’s stomach. They carried the shark
beyond the waves, and urged him to swim away.

Previously published in Earthborne Online Poetry Magazine.

Hal Sirowitz is the former Poet Laureate of Queens, New York, serving from 2000 to 2003. He’s featured in The Hollins Critic.

Object(s) to bring back to life: “I want the rotary phone back. I was the last one in my apartment building to change to the new touch-tone phone. At least, if someone wanted to talk to you, he had to make an effort to dial. Now the phone dials by itself if you push the right button. I miss rock candy but decades later, plus a few cavities, my teeth don’t. I miss the laughing gas the dentist used to give, not that it made me laugh, but because it was a great name.”