Fishtank Fantasy

A poem written at Highpoint South on Unit 7, a super-enhanced Portakabin that I have referred to in other poems. The regime was excellent for a Category C prison but the physical conditions were lamentable. We were granted access to an association room where we could do some cooking and watch a communal television. I didn’t go there much because I couldn’t stand the noise and disliked the smells of other peoples’ cooking. However, one day we were allowed to recover a fishtank from another wing where it was not really cared for. It temporarily replaced the television much to my delight and we would sit around it and watch the 27 or so fish, the largest and greediest of which I named Kaiser.

Fishtank Fantasy
Praise be to the fantasy fishtank
Rescued, in haste, from a wasteful wing
Praise be to the staff that we must thank
For granting us sight of this sacred thing
Praise be to the orderly that keeps it clean
This alternative to the silver screen
We need no altar before which to pray
Faced with our fabulous, faithful fish
We need neither pews nor idols of clay
For no human icon could we now wish
Watching these curious, colourful creatures
Our association room’s new living features
We now know that all fish are not equal
Not merely by size, nor by seniority
Democracy will not be their society’s sequel
For the mightiest is in a unique minority
There is but one: the Kaiser, the King
To whom the others must the anthem sing
His life is no struggle, this aquatic deity
His every requirement is by us provided
He rests, like a rock, in royal tranquillity
While remains of his food are by minnows divided
His power is not granted by unseen hands
For the fishtank orderly at his side stands
So we observe a jail within a jail
Where the convicted have committed no crime
But their prison system will never fail
Whilst the orderly spends so much of his time
To supply the incarcerated their every need
In their space where safety is guaranteed
And theirs is a prison of total security
No escape can be made from their idyll
The orderly removes all trace of obscurity
So that the roll may be checked at will
No need for sophisticated means of duress
There can be no riot to suppress
Sadly, the conditions will never arise
When they might be released
Nor can they even recategorise
Until, of course, they become deceased
When, finally, we will show some dignified respect
To these inmates that no-one one could ever suspect
Dedicated to MG who manned the fish while others fished for man