Sardine Poetry


With one-twenty-five from the couch cushions gleaned, 
I went out to buy a small snack of sardines.
The cans were all stacked on the shelves down aisle three:
In columns of black, orange, blue, grey and green.
The black tins are smoked and the orange cans are hot;
The blue’s packed in water; the grey ones are not.
The green ones are packaged in oil from ol-eeves,
And I pondered a while before this can I seized.

Magali R.

The Negatively Charged Can (A Sardine Poem)

Something has collided with this can, but it's still on the store shelf

The amazing, enthralling, fantastic Asian store full of interesting cans

If I don't buy this damaged can, nobody will, and that makes me sad 

Standing in the checkout, holding a crunched-up sardine can

In my mind I see children from the nomadic, goat-herding Kootchi

Chasing our FOB garbage truck, grabbing black bags of random discards

One dusty boy in green ran with Olympic potential

I could watch him from the top of the tower

The tower that collapsed when a VBIED hit the front gate 

And killed my friend Najibullah 

From atop I could see a 3-legged dog named "Dre"

Scounging near the smoking edge of the garbage dump

Something glints there, maybe nothing

Maybe just the bottom of a sardine can that caught the light, just so 

Catch a's not brass. It's not anything made of brass. 

I anticipate the store clerk will say something about better cans to be had

I will have to bite my tongue, or start talking about food waste

And the Kootchi tribe

Like that time I went off at McDonalds over wasting fries

But the store clerk slides my groceries through a laser put to peacetime purposes, says nothing

Do children chase garbage trucks in her mind, as well? 

Later, in my hot red van, I smell spicy sardine juice

Pooling in a plastic bag, an indeterminate shade of red 

From a tiny, invisible puncture wound

Like something that makes a tire deflate overnight 

When you're sleeping at a Texas rest stop

Trying to outrun something that lives in your head 

This can, I decree, shall not go to waste

The swimmy lives of these sardines, packed in this can

Packed so tight they can't even move, and one of them must

Jam his knee right between the legs of a female Command Sergeant Major

And ride for many bumpy miles like that, nervous as a cat, on the opposite bench

Everyone with knees interlaced, that's how tightly they are packed


And worst of all the light wasn't working so it was black as a coffin

But the lives of THESE SARDINES shall not go to waste, oh, no 

I must find a place with hungry animals, somewhere

And there is no standing order against feeding them

For there is no outbreak, here Stateside, of Red Rabies    

Near the truck stop with the Indian buffet

That smells just like the buffet in Ali Al Salem, rice and curry and fear  

There is an indeterminate red strip club where problem girls with heroin addictions

Cling to the last rung of the economic ladder, or so goes the rumor

And inside there is something I desperately need... 

A bathroom in a place that doesn't smell like rice, curry and fear 

The wall near the urinal is corrugated tin, and just for fun...

Somebody has stabbed, stabbed, stabbed at the wall 

Like trying to open a can with no can opener 

At the thirsty edge of the FOB for a 10 hour shift, you do what you must 

When you didn't bring everything you actually needed 

At the weedy perimeter of the so-called parking lot

A tire becomes one with the earth, near a crown of barbed wire

Blooms of plastic bag flowers instead of opium poppies

But if a dusty boy dashed behind a garbage truck 

It would seem completely normal

Like he'd just leaped from my mind 

Gently pop that can...

It still smells edible, though I dare not eat it

If I got sick, what would I tell the medic? 

And who would risk their life to pull my shift? 

No, wait...I am not there. I AM HERE. 


But I shouldn't eat from a punctured can anyway 

Even if it smells good

Because I am not a Kootchi boy

And life has not yet come down to THAT 

Tonight, most likely, there will be a random pussycat 

A negative will somehow become a positive 

I might even make a foray to the truck stop buffet 

Not wasting so much as a curry grease slick 

Or a single grain of rice 

Author: The Poetic Sergeant  

Hello, I am a Sardine, 
My name is Joline, 
I like the color green,
Take time look at the Scene.


Whether fat or tiny,
Oily or briny, 
It's healthy but mostly
It's delish when it's toastly.


No time for ocean
Still want tasty little
Sardine, I love you


Sardine, sardine, you have become part of my daily routine
Jar, tin, or can, I'll always be your number one fan
In oil, tomato or spice you are all are equally nice
From France, Portugal, Morocco, Norway, Spain
All have that taste that drive me insane
Sardine, sardine, you have become part of my daily routine

-Daniel Kreindler

Envelope of steel
Palming just delicate flesh
With or without bone


 A can of sardines with white or wheat.

Nothing can beat this tasty treat.

-Stuart Johnson

 "Vaccine! VACCINE!" they scream.
I just want to eat me savory sardines.
preteen, thirteen, oh.. my first can of sardines

Now I'm quarantined, with a cuisine of sardines.
Oh my sardines.
They're fit for a queen, pristine, and even packed with protein.
I'll take a canteen with a side of caffeine
Dream of a king as I snack on me sardines..


 No need for silverware
Nor fancy dishes
Just a stack of crackers

And a tin of little fishes

Whole wheat crackers
Or plain old saltines
Nothing tastes better
Than a can of sardines

-Bob Correll

 Sardines and saltines,
when quaffed on a boat
with Martini

may lead to bloat.
Alas! drunk at sea,
may need to pee.
So sing a dirge for little fishes
which taste so delicious.

-Johanna Kirwin LaChance


Meet me
Come greet me
On holiday
In the shade
At the place
Our sweet bench
Among sage
And warm stone
Where breeze sways
And zither plays
Where we... hush...

Call me
Come to me!
I can't follow dream
I can't follow sky
You must write!
Become my wife!
Where shade waves
With song
With light
Across your lips
(Our soul)
As we... hush...

Trees brush...
Leaves whisper song...
Lips sing along...

Most beautiful nose
Most gorgeous lips
(Coral, grey, glistening)
The holiest cheeks
Our queen of radiant breath!
In our shade
The zither plays
Lanterns sway
And the sweet pair kiss
On holiday

Come, sing our song!
Closer, sing along, your song of lips again
Leaves wonder at her lungs, their breath more fragrant than ours
Call to lavender
To sage
To spread their perfume through the shade
(Don't forget sun and stone, on all paths of holiday make your scent known)
Lo, they shift close again...

I bring my best tin
Gift for my queen
Slid from my sleeve
Silver, shimmering
Share with me
Beneath the trees
In the shade
On holiday...

The rest of the world is away...
A world of whispers away...
(Zither lulls the birds today)
Eat of my tin
Spiced oil is fragrance for a queen
The best portion
I lift to your lips
(Each flake of silver is best)
(In scholar's chopsticks)
Break the chili in two
For one soul to consume
From me
So lovely
Glittering fish in our mouth
Life-giving health
(Strange to see)
(Perfumed breath of sea)
(In a garden breeze)
(In the hushing trees)
Take my health with yours
Take again
My breath with yours
Perfumed with salt and sea
So close
Share my life with yours...
Sharing, we share the sea, or something so wide within our soul (within the eyes that wonder at me)
One life
With tins
Will be ours...
Scholar and Queen
Souls of the same tin
(With the life that waits within)
Take the last fish
Queens voice needs sustenance...
Now gift of gifts awaits...
Drink the tin
Oil blesses our lips
Take the last sip
Take from me
My touch
(My queen)
(So close to me)
(Nearly me)
Our fingers meet as we drink the tin
Brush again
(She's laughing)
(Tremendous tin!)
(Tremendous lungs!)
(That only His gift could give)
What light in the shade!
Her joy is fadeless!
Thank you trees
Who wave over gift of 'dines!
Who bless our souls, and bless our fish -- happy holiday to you! May you each find your semblable soul, in a tin, or where a tree finds friends (only don't yet wave the swallows home, keep the shade for two alone)
Trees that wave with song of holiday know
None greater than song of queen!
(Hoh hoh hoh)
(Marry me)
(Oh marry me!)
We hush
To clean up
Hearts like quiet leaves

We leave the trees
To bright sun
Stroll the garden
To end
One tin of memory

With queen of tins
Holiday begins again!

- Sardine Scholar.

Sardine la' Earleen
I once knew a sardine
A pretty little flipper, flounder of a fish
She went by the name Earleen
Earleen was in and out of streams
back and forth from salt tp sea
She was a free and darling girl of scaled dreams
Now my sardine woman, Earleen, she knew
Less honorable sardines who packed in groups
They went here and there
Bullies of the deep
So she lead them one by one
Into the fisherman's pond keep
He threw down his line
She danced and dared
With that the dark sardine group
raged and flared
Bit at the bit
Swallowed then tried to spit
But pretty little Earleen
Hooked them with her tricks!!!
Fisherman good, fisherman bad
His hook they took
Now into a can
We serve you the meat
Of the sea that tastes
Like pretty Earleen
has won a great race!!!
Sardine, sardine
Earleen the fish
Blesses this package
Of yummy little bits!!!

-Heather D'Aoust, California

Check out more of Heather's work 


I Found A Can In My Van 

Amid other randomness
It was an old, rusty can, man
found in Texas, I guess Shannon? 
dropped near a barbed wire fence
on cracked, weedy cement
My tracker eye said it was lost
By a gamey, footloose spirit 
exploring the fallen gas station nearby
A spirit like me, who has eaten many a can
OF SARDINES, all over my planet
It (the can, not the planet) lay in sun and rain and aged well
Took on a dark orange patina
At the crust of its original blood red
An antique fish 
Whispered "Eat Me" with its eye  
I have eaten many a can...
I have eaten many a can...
I have eaten many a can in Afghanistan
That which does not kill me..
That which does not kill me...
Becomes my (expletive) lunch 
Get my face all up in it
It was still good, and warm tomatoey 
It was like eating some sunny warmth
of my red, rusty van 
In this spot, extra alive this moment 
On Planet Earth 
                    -John Hoff

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