“Even Their Fish” by David C. Kopaska-Merkel

Gaussians at birth speak a dozen languages:
Their own arcane gibberish,
Galac standard, one entirely nonvocal, etc;
English is their grade-school pidgin,
And they learn new tongues quickly.
Domestic animals clean, handle routine maintenance;
Small furred tripeds: small-engine repair,
Do the accounting too.
Almost nothing’s beyond the Gaussian biota:
Lizardoids plait the children’s hair,
Flying frogs deliver mail, sundries,
The transport system, hospital admin—
Scaled or furred—it’s a crazy alien zoo.
The Gaussii themselves spend their days
Communing and philosophizing,
Thinking abstruse thoughts,
Hobnobbing with one another;
They rarely speak to aliens like us.
Diplomacy’s the province of small octopods
That scritch their wing covers to communicate,
Skilled and patient negotiators,
We have them to blame for the trade deal.
Even sea life is pressed into service,
Chiefly for military work,
Fish staff all the hit squads;
Gaussers that cross the gov’t move to deserts,
Though I hear it rains fish more often there,
Than it ever did on Earth.

David C. Kopaska-Merkel edited Star*line [journal of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association] in the late ’90s, and later served as SFPA President. He won the Rhysling award (long poem) in 2006 for “The Tin Men,” a collaboration with Kendall Evans. He was voted SFPA Grand Master in 2017. His poetry has been published in scores of venues, including Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, and Night Cry. He is the author of 30 books, ranging from fantasy poetry to geology. Kopaska-Merkel edits and publishes Dreams and Nightmares, a genre poetry zine in its 33rd year of publication. Blog: dreamsandnightmaresmagazine.blogspot.com @DavidKM. David hates cold, but this is not why he lives in the Deep South.
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