Gershon Hepner
Gershon Hepner

Asian Carp

Asian carp, brought here to filter
river bottoms dark and muddy
are ideal sources of gefilte
fish, if you’re no fuddy-duddy,
insisting on the type of carp
your bubbie kept inside her bath,
and flavored with a chrain so sharp
it had effects on you as path-
ological as maror when
you use not lettuce but horseradish,
the choice of many macho men,
although it seems you will say kaddish
for them if it’s too strong. Chrain goes
extremely well with carp that’s Asian.

Add carrots, pickles and tomatoes,
without a garnish that’s crustacean,
and you’ll have Judaized the fish
that leaps so high and super fast
in rivers, that the natives wish
it could be just like dybbuks cast
out of the body of the land,
returned to where they came from, beaten
away by popular demand.

The carp, most say, should stay where they
first came from, as was said of Jews
who people hoped would go away,
solution which they would refuse
just like the Asian carp, which swim
around in great midwestern rivers,
filling many to the brim,
and give those carpophobes the shivers.

Unlike Jews, when they multiply,
the carp do not assimilate,
but with some chrain and Jewish rye
men might enjoy what they now bait.

If everybody loved to eat
gefilte fish, they well might choose
to welcome it as much as meat,
views of it changed as of the Jews.

This modest, Swiftian solution
is not just faster but more tasty
than sloping towards evolution,
which for new viruses is hasty,
though far too slow to solve the crisis
created by carpocalypse,
and keeps gefilte fishes’ prices
affordable as fish and chips.

Inspired by the following articles:

Lauren Etter: “Asian Carp Fix: Just Eat It,” WSJ, 4/27/10 writes about Chicago restaurants that are serving Asian carp, often as carpaccio.
The word ‘carpocalypse’. Review by Helen Macdonald of “Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future by Elizabeth Kolbert (“Can We Patch Up the Natural World We’ve Hurt?,” NYT Book review, 3/14/21).

Gershon Hepner


About the Author
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at
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