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A letter to Starkist World / Corporate Poetry / 2000 co-winner / Starkist
Another entry from Daniel Arp, this one sent by post to Starkist, Inc.:

May 5, 2000
Dear StarKist,

I found this big fat bone in my tuna. The bone right in your hand. Go ahead, unwrap it from the gauze. That's one big gross-looking bone, isn't it?

I almost choked on this bone. This fat ugly bone could have killed me. Here I am, sitting down as I always do at lunch to one of your delectable cans of tuna with a few low-fat Triscuits and some grapefruit juice. (A working man has a right to this simple pleasure, doesn't he? Wouldn't you agree, StarKist, that your tuna is a delicacy worthy of being savored?) And I was savoring every bite of it, until this big whalebone got in the way. I was shoving the beloved protein-packed pap into my mouth - admittedly without paying much attention, for I have been eating your tuna for years and have never once encountered the slightest shred of bone. But there I was, reading about some Wal-Mart discounts in the local newspaper, when this calcified agent of death lodged in my throat, blocking my air passage; my hand constricted into a fist and crumpled the paper; I had to cough and kick and flail about the kitchen for several seconds before gagging this monstrosity out.

And lucky for you, StarKist, that I did gag it out. Or you'd be holding my mortal remains in your hand instead of a successfully extracted tuna bone. Why would you do this, StarKist? Why would you put a bone in your tuna? It doesn't make any sense. Is this where I'm supposed to get this mysterious "Omega 3" substance you always talk about?

Looking for answers, I scoured your web site. I went to your Frequently Asked Questions section, thinking that others might have ventured the same inquiry. Sadly, I found nothing but the standards: "What is StarKist's Dolphin-Safe Policy?" "What is the shelf life of StarKist Tuna?" "Does StarKist Tuna contain any gluten or grain ingredients?" A child could answer these questions! But there was nothing to the effect of, "Why do you occasionally include humongous protuberances of bone in your tuna?"

I would think that if you had meant to include the bone in every can of StarKist, you would have called your product "Fish'n'asphyxia" or "Surf'n'Suffocate." Maybe Charlie could be rendered making the universal sign for choking. Or better yet, you could make the bone a prize, like a gift in a cracker jack box: "Free Heimlich maneuver lesson inside!"

I know these are not serious suggestions. I am angry. You would be too if you'd just coughed up a hippo horn.

And it's a double injury considering what a loyal customer I have been. For going on half a decade now, I have made StarKist albacore tunas (both chunk white and solid white varieties) a staple of my daily diet. I have purchased countless cans of varying quality and never complained - have rather rejoiced at the resplendent flavorings, not to mention the portability and convenience of those airtight tins. Many a day, I have caught a glint of sunlight or my reflection in the flip-top as I pulled it back and marveled at the ease of opening, at the sharpness of the metal edges - such dangerous and forbidding packaging, yet wrapped around the softest, most tender mush of meat.

I have even gone so far as to follow the advice of your commercials, telling the checkout girls that "Charlie sent me," receiving only frowns or feigned amusement for my troubles - the vague, sleepwalking rebukes of minimum wage workers.

You are probably wondering what I want. Isn't it obvious? Free tuna. I want it to come in a truck. I want a huge crate of tuna delivered to my front door. Tell them Daniel sent you. Fifteen-year supply. Right on my doorstep. Plop.

"Whoa, I don't know about that Daniel," you say. "That's one big buttload of tuna," you'll say. Well, I say, "Tough tail fins, StarKist." I deserve it. I almost died.

And if you are thinking of taking the enclosed bone and flushing it down the toilet, thereby destroying the evidence, let me warn you: I have photographic evidence. That's right, pictures of the enormous elephant tusk: Exhibit A. I have even saved the original can: Exhibit B. Exhibit C, the tuna itself, is currently winding its way through my digestive tract, but this can hardly hurt my case, I think.

So give me my free tuna, StarKist. It's the only fair thing for everyone. Maybe not a whole crate; I'd probably settle for a couple of three-packs, with the only caveat being that if I find a bone in that batch, the stakes get exponentially higher. I should hit some sort of tuna jackpot. It should rain tuna on my birthday. I should have a servant following me around ensuring that I am stuffed with tuna at all times, no matter the hour. I want intravenous tuna, tuna on the brain and in my loins. Give me tuna, StarKist. Feed me!


Daniel Arp

Cc: Allen Sperling, Attorney at Law

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