Archives for posts with tag: fish

fish scales close up
Cooking Fish
by Uma Gowrishankar

The scales of the fish
stick to my hands like silver coins

Feet pulled
my grandmother sits on a chair rolling prayer beads

Like scaleless fish soft flesh
of her inner thighs

The walls smeared with camphor
tempers the smell of fish
curry cooked in a mud pot

The doorway is rubbed vermilion:
the red mother wears on her forehead the red
of chilies from Hyderabad
she grinds for the gravy

IMAGE: Abstract fish scales by Vlad Vitek.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Memories bear a presence that bestows them a timeless quality.

Gowrishankar 1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Uma Gowrishankar is a writer and artist from Chennai, South India. Her poems have appeared in online and print journals, including Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English 2020-21, Poetry at Sangam, City: A Journal Of South Asian Literature, Well-Earned Poems, Qarrtsiluni, Vayavya, Hibiscus: Poems that Heal and Empower, Shimmer Spring, Buddhist Poetry Review, Silver Birch Press, Entropy, Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art, Curio Poetry. Her full-length collection of poetry, Birthing History, was published by Leaky Boot Press.

Bombay Fish Market
by Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca

Here the entire sea
Comes in with the fish
Wet, Wet, Wet,
Everything is wet
The stench, indescribable!
Bell-bottoms and flip-flops
Not appropriate apparel
In a Bombay fish market.
Mother scolds me for making
Poor dress choices.

The fisherwomen loaded with gold ornaments
Jasmine flowers in their hair
Call out in raucous voices,
The fish wear sad expressions
Lying on stone slabs
In salt sea-water.

Mother bargains with her usual style
The fisherwoman says
“I’ll sell you the fish cheap
if you give your daughter’s hand in marriage to my son.’’
That was the last time
I went to the fish market with mother.
Fish curry at home erases
The fish market experience.
Still the enjoyment of the curry
Comes tinged with a bit of guilt
Sadness for the fish
On the stone slabs, their eyes follow me.

Father takes me to the Aquarium
A once-in-a-while treat.
A better place to admire fish.

Still my preference is to go down to the sea with him
Where I dream of writing a poem
like John Masefield’s Sea Fever.

The fish are at home in the ocean
That travels the shores of my city.
I wish for everything Masefield desires
Unlike him, I am afraid of the sea.

First published in Verse-Virtual, August 2021.

IMAGE: Fish fairytale by CDD20.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is based on my memory of going to a fish market in Bombay with my mother, as a young girl. It was interesting and unnerving experience at the same time, especially in the company of my mother. The poem also refers to the memorable experience of going to the Bombay Aquarium with my poet father, and for walks to the seashore with him, both of which were always fun and enjoyable. John Masefield’s poem “Sea Fever,” has remained one of my favorite poems to this day.

Kavita reading poetry copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca has been a teacher of English, French, and Spanish for over four decades in colleges in India and private schools overseas. She is a widely published poet, with poems featured in various journals and anthologies, including the Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English, the Journal of Indian Poetry in English by Sahitya Akademi, SETU magazine, Harbinger Asylum, and Verse-Virtual. Her debut collection Family Sunday and other Poems was published in 1989. Her chapbook Light of the Sabbath was published in September 2021. Kavita is the daughter of the late poet Nissim Ezekiel. Visit her on her author site and on Facebook.

tackle box 1
Grandpa’s Tackle Box
by Gary Grossman

The thickened air was cold as
permafrost as we picked through
87 years of accumulation,
sentimental trilobites wrapped in
the papery shale of lived years.

In a far corner, under an eave,
sat a tackle box, metallic green
mottled with rust, the colors of
duckweed trapped in the corner of
a pond full of brim.

Opened, the layered trays creaked—joints
almost as frozen as Grandpa’s
aged knees. The box was a small
galaxy of rusted hooks, bobbers,
plugs and needle nose pliers.

The tangle brought back his hours of
help with my middle school science
project, a model cell—Golgi bodies,
mitochondria, and the sticky
sounding endoplasmic reticulum.

An embalmed night crawler lays across
both a red-headed bass plug and a
leopard frog endowed with two trebles,
somehow having escaped our old tin
worm can. It crumbled at my touch.

My earliest memory, us walking back
from Uncle Jake’s pond. I didn’t
even reach four feet and he remarked
“The stringer’s heavy, let me carry it.
We had a good day, didn’t we?”

Originally published in Verse-Virtual, June 2022

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My Grandfather was born in Ukraine during the 1890s and immigrated to the U.S. in 1913. I doubt he had as many experiences as a child that I did growing up in the 1950s-60s, but he always encouraged my many interests, especially fishing and baseball. He passed in 1972.

Gary Grayling Chena

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gary Grossman is retired Professor of Fisheries at University of Georgia. His poetry is published or forthcoming in 29 reviews, including: Verse-Virtual, Poetry Life and Times, Your Daily Poem, Poetica, Trouvaille Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Poetry Superhighway, Muddy River Poetry Review, The Knot, and Delta Poetry Review. His essays have appeared in Alaska Magazine and American Angler, and his short fiction has been featured in MacQueen’s Quinterly. For 10 years, he wrote the “Ask Dr. Trout” column for American Angler. Gary’s first book of poems, Lyrical Years, is forthcoming in 2023 from Kelsay Press. His hobbies include running, music, fishing, and gardening. Visit his website,, and his blog,

PHOTO: Gary Grossman with an Arctic Grayling (Chena River, Alaska). Photo by Jason Neuswanger.

Ocean Questions
by Tom Lagasse

There will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

As the five gyres of plastic expand will the king
mackerels and greater amberjacks shrug

And ask—Is this the ongoing cost of doing
business in today’s global economy?

Will their DNA become partially plasticized
like credit cards so they may survive without

Needing schools to intermingle and learn
From one another? Is there enough time

For dolphins and whales to create a new language
to communicate to their fellow mammals

A single hero casting a life preserver ring to
The drowning cannot save the ocean?

PAINTING: Fish by M.C. Escher (1942).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tom Lagasse’s poetry has appeared in Poetically Magazine, The Feminine Collective, Black Bough’s Poetry Freedom & Rapture and Dark Confessions; Faith, Hope, and Fiction; Silver Birch Press Prime Movers Series, Freshwater Literary Review, Word Mill Magazine, The Monterey Poetry Review, a half dozen anthologies, and more. He can be found at @tomlagasse (Twitter), @tom_lagasse (Instagram),, and  He lives in Bristol, Connecticut.

salmon stream
Henrietta: A Summer Love
by Joe Cottonwood

I do not claim to own this creek
but it flows through my property
and perhaps I own each day’s gurgle
that wakes me, and beds me, alone
after a winter of slow goodbye.

Today, a new sound: splash and thrash.
A salmon the size of an otter
struggles upstream over gravel,
pool to pool where she rests, gathers strength
for the next leap and spurt
driven by a memory she does not remember.

Nine miles from the Pacific she stops
at this dark pool under my footbridge.
In a drought year, no farther. Henrietta,
I christen thee after my favorite aunt
who has your face.

I do not claim to own this fish
but all summer she hovers in shadow,
fins barely moving, facing upstream.
Water enters, water departs
too shallow each way for escape.

At the post office I happen to meet Debbie,
a biologist who knows salmon, who also knows loss.
Something compels me to bring her to my bridge.
A secret. In a town of anglers, we tell no one else.
Debbie says Henri is waiting for a lover.

Next day, and next, Debbie drops by.
I’m not sure why. Together, daily we watch.
Henrietta says little. Avoids eye contact.
Same with Debbie who says they often starve.
Waiting to spawn, they die.

One morning, October, I awake to the rush of rain.
I run to the bridge where Debbie is already waiting.
Her hand on my shoulder. Mine, hers.
Henrietta is gone.
Debbie says Henri might return next spring.
Please, she says, call me if and when.

I am still waiting.
Strange, the signs we miss.
The love. The fish.

PAINTING: Spawning Salmon by Julie, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The “I” of this poem is actually a good friend of mine whose creek became the summer rest stop of a fish that he named Henrietta. Taking weekly walks with my friend I always paused to visit Henrietta, so I am the Debbie of the poem. From such waters, the poem swam away and took on a life of its own. I am still waiting for my friend to chew me out about this.

Cottonwood Joe

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joe Cottonwood is a semi-retired contractor with a lifetime of repairing homes and writing books. He lives with his high school sweetheart under giant redwood trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California where he dodges wildfires while caring for curly-haired dogs and straight-haired grandchildren. His latest book is Random Saints. More at

susan and me
Fish Dinner at the Beach
by Christine Potter

At first, it was architectural: breaded, oblong, the
color of cedar two by fours, from the wee Alaskan

wilderness of a rented cottage’s freezer. And I was
forbidden to erect fish stick log cabins on my plate,

using tartar sauce for mortar. Next, deep sea fishing—
my father and grandfather with new-caught baskets

of glitter and silver eyes. Lord, don’t TOUCH them!
my grandmother said, stooping to run something

white under the broiler: swordfish. It took ten years to
chew, and lemon just made it sour. Didn’t swordfish

have serrated-knife noses and fight underwater duels?
Seafood in my teens: wild paisley, hippie gems. Hot

pink shrimp. Octopus like purple fists. Iridescent
mussel shells black as turtlenecks. No lobster because

my father was allergic. It reddened his face and two
pimples bloomed on his forehead. You are growing

antennae, said my mother, her joke too dangerous
for me to laugh at. Now, sushi, tidy as a new ring

in its pillowed box. So why am I a bear, wading this
cold and noisy river? My mouth is full of salmon.

PHOTO: The author and her sister Susan next to a statue of Massasoit in Plymouth, Massachusetts (early 1960s).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Fish Dinner At the Beach” started out during a National Poetry Month poem-writing spree with a group of online poet friends. I like to write poetry about being a child (same reason I like to write time travel YA fiction, actually). Also: I really, really like fish. My family went to Cape Cod when I was little to hit the beach, but also to eat fish. These days, my husband and I go to Nova Scotia for the same reason. So it was pure joy working on a poem about growing up from fish sticks into a sushi-eating bear-creature! Which reminds me that I have a little smoked Arctic char in the freezer and it’s time for lunch.

me and elvis

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christine Potter is a poet and YA novelist who lives in the almost-exurbs of the lower Hudson River Valley. Her two full-length poetry collections are Zero Degrees at First Light (2006) and Sheltering in Place (2013). Christine’s poems have appeared in Rattle, Crab Orchard Review, American Arts Quarterly, Rain Town Review, Eclectica, The Literary Bohemian, The Pedestal, and Fugue. The first book of her young adult time-traveling series, Time Runs Away With Her, was released in the fall of 2015, and the next installment, In Her Own Time, is forthcoming from Evernight Teen.

AUTHOR PHOTO: The author with a statue of a young Elvis Presley (Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum, Tupelo, Mississippi).

by Rosa Swartz

At first frost I vacate the pond,
hooks and barbs wedged in the shadows of my flesh.
Asleep in winter’s wool blankets
dry beds of hot air scrape tears in my scales,
my pulse swoops into a murky scream.
Below the bridge at Wolf Creek,
my body swims away
each morning leaving just a raincoat,
the wind that slaps the maple trees.

IMAGE: “Water Dragon” by Robert Hooper. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rose Swartz is a writer and visual artist from Kalamazoo, Michigan. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon, where she practices darkroom photography and creative writing. She travels frequently. She’s been a poetry editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review and Asylum Lake Magazine. Her writing has most recently appeared in Carnival Magazine, Really System Magazine, and Coal Hill Review. Her chapbook, All Along the California Coast, came out this year on Diamond Wave Press.

by Ron De Maris

Put an ear to the light at fall
of dark and you will hear
nothing. This pale luminescence
that drifts in upon them
makes a blue bole of their caves,
a scare of their scything
tails. They tell
in the bubbling dark of images
that come in upon them
when light spreads like an oil slick
and sea fans
that once were their refuge
turn away.
Now there is no dark
dark enough for their silver tails,
scatter of color
(like coins massively
piling in the lap of a miser)
that was, in the day, their pride.
How hugely here we belong.
This is their song
in the silting
drift of the reef.
They have never seen the moon
nor the black scut of night, stars
spread like plankton
in their beastly infinities.

Photo:“Queen Angelfish” Chris Huss/NOAA

by Jennifer K. Sweeney 

after the waiting years     leaden years
keening oceanside for an answer
from the original dark
you emerge distinct
one life perpetually not-there
then    suddenly at work with long division
sac of cells we
watched in the flux
via negativa
you eddy forth     little blue fish
little big heart
to be here with me now
means we made a study of
insistence     means
I will not forget the profound
absence from which
you began
Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of two poetry collections: Salt Memory (Main Street Rag, 2006), available at, and How to Live on Bread and Music (Perugia Press, 2009), available at Visit the author at This remarkable poet offers private instruction and poetry critiques. Learn more here.

Painting: “Blue Fish” by Ed Smith. Prints available at


“Don’t tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish.” MARK TWAIN

Painting by Walasse Ting