Photo Journal of Michael Campbell: A new picture every day (almost)




The Dead Fish was first used to illustrate a little story published in Mikesjournal August 2003. For some reason a lot of people look to Google images for "Dead Fish". The granite patio which was created by using one inch slices of beach stones cut with a diamond saw and laid out in a mosaic take on the spirit of fish scales in the photos.

I reprint it here:                                   

A Fish Story  



Monday, August 25, 2003: Oh sad day. We lost a fish. It was one of the larger Koi fish. I found it about 15 feet from the pool by the base of the granite patio. Of course everyone blamed a cat. They were sure it had to be a cat. We do not own a cat but there are plenty of cats in the neighborhood.  One homeless cat even moved in with us for a few weeks at the beginning of summer when she had her two kittens under our back verandah.  My problem was nobody seemed interested in the important question of just how the cat could have done it. Teresa ventured that maybe the ornamental nightlights would have helped the cat to see the fish.

Cats like fish but cats do not like water. If the cat was very smart or very lucky  he might of pushed the floating plants aside and scooped the fish out of the pond with a net but a normal cat would have  to dive into the pool and used the little cat hooks on the ends of its little cat paws to fish the fish right out of the water and onto the shore. A move like that would have disturbed the pump and fountain but the pool appeared perfectly normal in the morning. And there was also something wrong with the fish. It was not damaged. There were no obvious claw marks. No teeth marks. No punctures or tears.  I examined it carefully. It was dirty. One witness said this proved beyond a doubt that a dirty cat with dirty cat paws must have done it. This was easily rebutted because everyone knows cats have clean paws because they are always licking their paws.

But if a cat did not do it then how did the fish get from the pond to a dry spot 15 feet from the pool? Last night it rained a bit. I think the Koi jumped at the rain thinking it was food. He was a big wild fish and could have easily made it to the stonework. The granite patio slopes away from the pond. Thereafter each flop in the puddles would have carried the Koi  inexorably farther away from his home and to certain death after the rain ended and the water dried away. So it is with a fish out of water. Oh sad day. But there was an important  lesson I hope. I quietly took the cat haters aside and showed them the fish. I had them consider the evidence and consider the suicide or misadventure theory. They concluded right away that a cat probably did not do it. The dirt was from it rolling on the ground and I made them realize why it is not right to immediately jump to conclusions about anything, particularly anything as important as death and the assignment of blame.

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As an example of how the above story looks as a poem:

Dead Fish

You leapt into the rain thinking it was prey

Landed on the patio

Granite scales of the beast.

Each leap into the watery air

Every struggle

Took you farther from your home.

So it was you died


A fish out of water.

My tears cannot revive you now.

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Illios: Illustrated Poetry of Love and Other Afflictions

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