The Herring Net
Inspired by Winslow Homer’s painting The Herring Net, 1885, American artist,
oil on canvas.)
The northeaster screams; their little dory tips
while with bloody hands they grab the net and haul.
Far-off, sails fade, -- dim signs of the mother ships:
three or four schooners wrapped in thickened mist.
One man, seated on the gunwale, almost falls
as the wind screams louder and the dory tips
on an ebbing swell. His partner rises, slips,
and curses twice at the sea, a foaming wall.
Fainter now -- those sails of the mother ships.
To catch these herring, they’ve put their lives at risk.
Prayerful, backs bent, heads bowed, they fight the squall
that cold and vengeful screams. Their dory tips
while the fish gleam blue-pink like polished bits
of treasure from sunlight flashing on them all.
So far, so faint, so pale are the mother ships.
In agony the herring flap and twist
as one weary fisherman to the other calls,
“This north wind screams, and our little dory tips.”
Far-off, sails fade, -- last signs of the mother ships.
Editor's note: click here to see The Herring Net.
Because I Never Learned the Types of Leaves
Because I never learned the types of leaves,
as I walk, I call them whatever I please:
fronadill, mountain-spill, and -- microphyll.
That one makes me stop my climb up the hill.
How can it be? I really know a few?
Stipules, angiosperm -- words you knew,
but not me. Do I dream? Your whispering
blends with the dense forest’s treetops swooshing:
angiosperm, lamina, monocot,
and lycophytes. Almost beyond earshot,
yet unmistakably, your voice rings clear,
and though you are long gone, I sense you’re near.
While leaves fall -- some gold, some red, some yellow --
I hear, past darkened trees, your voice’s echo.
I Held the Secret In
I held the secret in while froth
spewed from the dying black mare’s mouth.
She writhed below the heavy cloth
I’d spread over her side, and throughout
the stable the winter wind swirled.
Shards of my shattered innocence
fixed themselves deeper, while my world,
due to my lack of vigilance,
would be forever marred by guilt.
Over the snow-crusted field, I’d led
the horse, my body forced to tilt
due to the storm. Barbed wire, rusted
but sharp, pricked her leg. Her blood poured.
“Lockjaw,” weeks later the vet said.
On a bed of straw my adored
mare panted and then lay dead.
How Ginger got her injury,
from then up to this very day
I’ve let remain a mystery.
When asked, I have nothing to say.
But on many nights, I relive
that blemished day, and in my sleep
I dream my dying mare forgives
me for the secret that I keep.
Gregory E. Lucas writes fiction and poetry. His short stories and poems have appeared in magazines such as The Ekphrastic Review, Ekphrasis, The Horror Zine, Blue Unicorn, and The Horror Zine.