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Poem: A Carpapalooza by Regie Cabico

About this Poem 

This poem was commissioned for We the Poets, a collaborative project with the National Archives and the Academy of American Poets to celebrate American Archives Month in October 2014. To read more about the project and to view related photographs and documents from the National Archives, visit the Prologue: Pieces of History blog.

A Carpapalooza: An American Anthem

I can write about colonialism, Disney, riots 
& inoculations. Centuries of American history 
before me: Pocahontas' bust, Rosa Parks 
arrest records, Elvis Presley meeting Nixon 
but with only an hour to go before recording 
a poem at The National Archives, I'm in 
Starbucks obsessed and struggling 
with the queerest piece of literature 
in the Archives- Eat The Carp. The Bureau 
of Fisheries urges Americans to Eat The Carp. 
This resilient variety of fish that lolled the tea 
gardens of Japan & became the staple 
for gefilte to Jews is 43 million pounds strong 
at the turn of the 20th century. We were coaxed 
to eat carp croquettes, jelly and caviar. Before 
there were Mcnuggets, there was the Carp.
These over-sized gold fish that multiplied 
from Carolina to California with the force 
of horseless carriages pounding through 
our streams. How do I pay homage to this 
tenacious piece of protein that has fortified 
our American bellies. For weeks, I have labored 
over composing haikus to the Carp, Neruda-like 
odes to the Carp. Howl Allen Ginsberg-style 
to the Carp. Sketch a Jackson Pollock splatter 
of concrete poetry all over our marbled 
Carp-ital City to the Carp. I even wanted to write 
something personally ethnic like a Filipino riddle 
to the Carp. Ultimately, this is a Carpe Diem poem 
to the Carp. So I say to you live and roam free 
as the Carp. Seize the Carp! Roast the Carp 
till our appetites are lit into star spangled flames 
leading us into a new dawn of Omega 3's 
& prosperity. Oh Lord, give me Carp & the power 
to forge and be prolific as Carp. Though I can't pay 
my student loans & while I haven't found a husband 
on Plenty of Fish, Scruff, Tinder & OK Cupid. I am 
Ok Carp, Gung Ho Carp, Play The Carp, Watch me 
star in Les Carpelables, the musical: "Carp On High, 
Hear My Prayer..." Carplohoma:  "Carplohoma 
where the carp come sweeping through the plains..."   
Give me Carp crispy-fried in Crisco & well done! 
Oh Lord, serve me a sweltering sausage of Carp 
smeared with a smack of sriracha, a kiss of mayo 
& mustard on a whole wheat bun.

Copyright © 2014 by Regie Cabico. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2014 by Regie Cabico. Used with permission of the author.

Regie Cabico

Regie Cabico's work appears in over 30 anthologies including The Spoken Word Revolution (Sourcebooks, 2003), Chorus & The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry (Thunder's Mouth Press, 1999), and Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café (Henry Holt and Company, 1994). He is the co-editor of Flicker & Spark: A Contemporary Anthology of Queer Poetry and Spoken Word  (Lowbrow Press, 2013), nominated for a 2014 Lambda Literary Award. He is the Youth Program Coordinator for Split this Rock Poetry Festival.

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