The Artist (a poem with fishy fish)

The Artist (a poem with fishy fish)


Koi painting by Aletha Kuschan


The Artist (a poem with fishy fish)

What marvellous fishy fish you capture,
he said to the artist, quick tip of the hat

and nod to her grasp of the slippery power
held within the Koi, of paint and pond.

If I could divine the secret of supple
shape and muscle, colour and movement

that you magically display, in the loose
flamboyance of these wild but captive

creatures, mouth open, wanting more
than can ever be obtained in this stale life,

outside the rippled blue of paint reflected,
I would hide it in a locked box,

to keep the magic from evaporating.


Koi by Aletha Kuschan


Dedicated to the artist and blogger Aletha Kuschan (who is slightly obsessed with painting Koi) and the late and great poet gingatao (author of The Puzzle Box) who was a great admirer of Aletha’s work, particularly her ‘fishy fish’.

27 thoughts on “The Artist (a poem with fishy fish)

  1. I saw “fishy fish” in your title and instantly thought of Paul. I remember how him using that term. Lovely poem and a perfect dedication to them both.

  2. I like this very much, specially the first stanza. Lovely paintings too,

    Crafty green Poet

  3. “to keep the magic from evaporate”
    I love that. To me it represents all the beauty we have in our head, and when we express it it does evaporate.
    Beautiful poem and tribute to 2 wonderful artists.

  4. Paul did give them a name that has stuck. They are fishy fish now and seemed to have appeared sometimes in his poems before it ever dawned on me to even draw koi, certainly long before I knew Paul.

    The koi do live inside boxes of a sort, “puzzle boxes,” being prevented from exiting the ponds where they are captive, and yet they have astonishing freedom in their endlessly changing movements. Somehow they are more than the sum of their separately swum paths — I speak of the real fish about which my pictures are suggestions.

    Up and down are relative things in the pond as in thought. The koi transcend something-or-other by means of their urgency and incessant movement. Your poem catches some of that quality too, of the actual fish I mean.

    I am honored! Is a tremendous wow feeling. Thank you!

  5. love this Gabe, and am sure Paul is loving it too… i read one of his poems at the speedpoets 10th birthday. can still picture him perched in the corner at InSpire.

  6. Ah, yes, to capture beauty, Gabrielle – lovely poem – really like the expression of recognition in that “tip of the hat and nod to her grasp”. Also, in the first painting, I love that fish on the left looking at the artist while the others are focused on swimming.

    1. Thanks bluebee – that is really one of the types of sentences that he was good at – I am just copying his style a little (sure he won’t mind). The picture is amazing – I thought the same about the fish you pointed out.

  7. A wonderful poem Gabrielle, and the koi have been beautifully ‘captured’ in those paintings.

    It’s always nice to have a memory of Paul revisited.

  8. Being a lover of fishy fish as I am, this poem really spoke to me. I liked the movement but the killer image is the creatures with mouths open always wanting more than they can obtain from this life. That image has moved me so much. Brilliant!

    1. Thanks Selma – yes, there is something about the mouth open thing and fish – it’s like they are trying to get to the other world but can’t breath – just a little taste of the other side and wanting more.

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