The Black Angel by Jonathan Brown

I have a black angel
fish I’ve been trying to figure out
how to discipline.

She nips at all the other fishes’ fins
and there’s nothing
I can do about it.

I could starve her,
but then I’d harm
the other fish.

Isn’t that always
the way? Paying
for someone else’s sins?

As if morality had a balance
or swimming in your own piss
wasn’t enough already?

You know that part
in your favorite song
when everything crescendos
and you headbang in your kitchen
when no one else is around?

Maybe that’s the part
that’s stuck in the black angel’s
head and she only wants to be alone.

Or maybe the other fish didn’t know
they were in a mosh pit.  No matter.

It’s all forgotten as soon as I walk away.
I’m not the boss of those fish.
Sure, I have to change the water.

Sure, I have to feed them and watch them
and ask them questions.  I can’t blame
them for not answering.  They can’t talk
yet.  I’m teaching them to read

by stacking Time
magazines against the back of the glass.
I watch and wait for the sake of the others.
Hopefully, reading will teach them love or patience.


About Jonathan Brown