Is the angler fish ever tempted
by its own bait? Does it ever stir
from whatever trance-like state
passes for sleep in the aphotic zone,
see the glowing decoy & think,
Ah — mine! & surge forward,
jaws agape, like the proverbial donkey
tempted by a carrot? Or does it get
snappish at its traveling companion,
persistent as a bad conscience,
haunting as the image of its own death?

Written for the Read Write Poem prompt, “traveling companions.” Links to other poems for the prompt are here.

For a more overtly political poem, see SB’s I Have This to Say About That, at Watermark.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. persistent as a bad conscience,
    haunting as the image of its own death?

    very nice. Thanks for the read.


  2. a mirror image of what’s in the mirror…whew! it’s not about me


  3. I like your take on this, a fish I remember being enthralled with when Jaques Cousteau (must have) introduced me to it, an amazing creature.

    The idea that it is snappish made me smile, and wince. And read your poem over three times.


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