The Half-Life
of a Lapsed Ex-Fisher

Crates. Photo by Fiona Baxter/Flickr
Photo by Fiona Baxter/Flickr


He once sold a portion of himself to a fish
packing plant, slipped in the crates
of the headless and dressed when all
eyes were bludgeoned. Cloudy.

Between the jagged tooth of dogfish
he placed the holy gift of tongues, crescent
moons from whoring acts.

He wished to sail to Denmark or Japan,
swear with sailors there.


Righteous in ghettos he cast
anchors deep in wet

Fish twisted like humans, reeked
of truth on the ground. Some fell
on their knees in frozen fish
sections, cast nets to catch
loonies or bills.

He tossed coins in the hold of a bus,
snarled “float me the hell outa here.”

His eyes cut steaks out of them.

Photo by Joel Zobel

Stephanie McKenzie has traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean and lived in Jamaica and Guyana for short periods. With Carol Bailey, she edited Pamela Mordecai’s A Fierce Green Place: New and Selected Poems (New Directions, 2022). McKenzie has published three collections of poetry with Salmon Poetry and is full professor in the English Programme at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University.