This poem came out of the August 2, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from wyld_dandelyon and sponsored by janetmiles. The setting is a colony world in my main science fiction universe; Common Ground was founded on the premise of common sense and its government is an odd blend of meritocracy, chaocracy, and what I would now call crowdfunding. Early on, politicians aiming for elected offices started keeping fish -- the more challenging, the better -- to show their environmental fluency. Sometimes, that's not quite enough ...
Cecil Bailey thought it would be harmless
to accept a few gifts from the Corporate Bodies council --
little things, really, and ones without sticker prices
so their value was difficult to calculate
and surely there was no point in recording them.
Then some reporter from The Whistle
got wind of it and wrote an article,
which was reprinted in The Watchdog
over in the Freedom System,
and before long journalists from a dozen colonies
all showed up to the party waving their muck rakes.
Cecil Bailey learned the hard way
that the voters of Common Ground
take a dim view of kickbacks
and even if you're keeping Golden Angelfish
in a reef tank with live rock and assorted corals,
thus demonstrating your ability to tend an ecosystem
and your trustworthiness for a planet-sized one,
you will not be entrusted with a planet
when people doubt your bookkeeping.