fish we don’t cry for

old Joe isn't exaggerating
his stories of abundance
hard work, putting plenty
we thought he lost his mind from years ashore

the doctors told us
we suffer from generational amnesia
creeping loss unappreciated
no other medicine than to sit down with Joe

old Joe and his companions caught more species
at more sites, closer to shore
goliath groupers, dog snappers, bull sharks
they saw fish
my buddies and I have never seen

fish we don't cry for
fish we don't rally for
fish we just don't miss


In the mid 90's, the concept of changing human perceptions of biological systems was introduced as the Shifting Baseline Syndrome (SBS). It focuses on the understanding that if individuals fail to pass their experience to future generations, that next generation updates their normality, and thus shifting the expectation of their own experiences. Sáenz-Arroyo et al. (2005) studied the shifting baselines among three generations of fishers of the Gulf of California. This poem tells the story of what might happen if we fail to tell and educate future generations on the past and current state of the environment.