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  • Writer's pictureDon Rearden

The Last Salmon - a “Don Rearden poem” with a Shocking Disclaimer

[king of the king salmon, Kodiak, Alaska circa WhiteSox cap era]

[the following poem contains a shocking disclaimer at the end with regards to the creation]

The Last Salmon

I remember the last salmon

I caught with my grandfather

On the Kuskokwim river

Before he passed away

He taught me how to gut it

With a sharp knife and steady hand

How to smoke it over alder wood

And store it for the winter

He told me stories of his youth

When the fish were plentiful and fat

When the river was clean and clear

And the people were happy and healthy

He warned me of the changes

That were coming fast and hard

The dams, the mines, the pipelines

The diseases, the drugs, the violence

He said we had to fight for our land

Our culture, our language, our way of life

He said we had to respect the salmon

They were our brothers and sisters

He said we had to remember who we are Where we came from, what we stand for

He said we had to stick together

We were stronger as one

I remember his last words to me

As he handed me his knife and smiled

"Take good care of this salmon, son"

"It might be your last one"

[And now the shocking disclaimer. This poem was written using artificial intelligence. I asked the chatbot the following: "Can you write a poem in the voice of Alaskan author Don Rearden." This poem, "The Last Salmon" is the direct result of that answer with zero changes. I didn't specify content or style or tone, and the AI chat bot created the poem you just read. If you've read enough of my poetry (I realize ONE poem is probably enough for most!) you know this piece could very well be something I'd dash off, though sadly I never had the chance to fish with either of my grandfathers on the Kusko. (I did get to fish with some incredible elders who treated me like a grandson though.)]

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