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 Sonette Watt

Stephanie McKenzie has published four books of poetry, three of them with Salmon Poetry (Cliffs of Moher, Ireland). To write her most recent collection, Bow’s Haunt: The Gusle’s Lessons (2018), McKenzie traveled to Serbia and lived there to study the gusle, an instrument that is integral to epic poetry. She is professor in the English Programme, Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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