The Blobfish by Chase Dimock

The Blobfish

Psychrolutes marcidus
was never meant for terrestrial fame.
4,000 feet below in his own environment
without a gaseous bladder or bones,
he hovers listlessly above the ocean floor,
almost inert, drawing his mouth open only
to seduce prey. He isn’t the javelin arched
dolphin or the serpentine eel, but he holds
the platonic form of a fish and
the crustaceans still know to beware.

Dredged up to the land from the depths,
his concentrated, yet gelatinous body
could not contain his expanding innards.
His once thin fishy frame bloated
beyond recognition and he assumed
the profile of the harangued everyman.

His mouth distended into a hapless frown,
bald pink skin sweating nervously
beneath the lamps in the laboratory,
beady little eyes dense with anxiety,
and that bulbous, flabby nose, probably
an organ squeezed through his brain,
lobotomized by the pressure shift.

I have met this fish many times before.
When I was ten, he lived in the aquarium
in my therapist’s office. He’d bloop his frown
against the glass repeatedly as I tried to
draw nightmares with waxy, Roseart crayons.
Tropical fish swirled in their auroras
while the blobfish kept blooping,
blooping to read over my shoulder.
The scratch of the therapist’s pen against
her ledger inscribed me like cuneiform
on a clay tablet and poked me down,
down into the couch, until
I lost myself between the cushions.

When the insurance money ran out,
I scooped the blobfish out of the tank,
and brought him home with me. We
flopped around in my inflatable pool
and when we gasped for breath, we
shared a few drags of my inhaler.

Six summers ago at Cornell,
he stared at me from my plate,
daring me to accidentally use
the salad fork to eat him.
Debates on post-structuralism
ricocheted across the ballroom
and compressed me down,
down into my chair, and my feet
dangled limp like the untied
shoelaces of a latchkey kid.

When the keynote on deontology
ended, I wrapped him up in a napkin
and brought him to my dorm room.
We split a Rolling Rock tall can and
hopped into the frying pan together.

Chase Dimock is an English Professor from Los Angeles and he serves as the Managing Editor of As It Ought To Be Magazine. His poetry has been published in Waccamaw, Hot Metal Bridge, Saw Palm, and San Pedro River Review. He holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Illinois and his works of literary scholarship and criticism have appeared in College Literature, Western American Literature, Modern American Poetry, The Lambda Literary Review, and several edited anthologies.