by Catfish McDaris

The town was sleepy, my pockets
were light, I needed work of any
kind, a Yaqui man watched me, he
knew I spoke Spanish and approved

Of my silence, he invited me to beans
and tortillas, it tasted better than steak,
we walked to the beach, fishermen
sat with heavy poles and curved knives

They fished for red snapper or yellow
tail, but kept the blades handy in case
of a tuna dragging a man into a watery
death, it had happened a few times

There were long thin ribbon fish on the
beach, men were surf casting big chunks
of meat on treble hooks, one was soon
in a battle with a sand shark, when it

Was on the beach, it took five blows to
the head to kill it, the Yaqui said it was
for soup, we got jobs cleaning fish and
icing down shrimp, the water, sun, and

Cloud of blood over the Sea of Cortes
removed the January snow from inside
my weeping heart, a woman had made
me a prisoner and I was trying to escape.

PHOTO: Yaqui fishermen prepare for a long day of work at the height of shrimp season in Guaymas. Image by Dominic Bracco II. Mexico, 2012.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catfish McDaris won the Thelonius Monk Award in 2015. He’s been active in the small press world for 25 years. He’s working in a wig shop in a high crime area of Milwaukee. His newest book is Sleeping with the Fish (266 pages fo $13).