Poetry Prompt: The One That Got Away

There are plenty of fish in the sea. Sometimes they slip through the fingers. In honor of our broken pride, we’re hanging out among friends at the Tweetspeak Bait and Tackle, spinning a few poetic tales about the ones we couldn’t quite catch.

Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here is a poem from Richard we enjoyed:

At the feeders the finches light,
then sweep away like dolphins,
sleek and wet in a glass sea.

At the kitchen counter lemons,
cut in quarters, for trout,
baking in flame-less fire. The silent stars,
wandering behind their bright faces,

do not remember us, nights we stood
torches in hand, attracting the birds
who had not yet learned to fly.

—by Richard Maxson


POETRY PROMPT: Write a poem about the one that got away.


Photo by Mo Riza. Creative Commons license via Flickr. Post by Heather Eure


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  1. says

    Thanks for posting my poem, Heather. Here’s another fish tale, but with a grain of truth from memories at my Grandmas house on the Muskingum River near Zanseville, Ohio.

    Mud Cat

    A fish so still unnerved them,
    devouring sixty inches of their minds:
    this was the mighty Muskingum
    cataract, falling no further
    than half a mile upstream.

    A small hope, shared by many: after
    the flood of Fifty―they’d find it
    moved. Yet, when a month of mud
    cleared, it seemed only fatter than before,
    near the dock where the cattails clatter.

    Some swore through time, red-faced,
    it was a keelhauled bow they saw,
    something sunk and bogged down,
    sucked-in so much the river that plucked
    off seven bridges like steel flowers left it placed.

    Swearing came to dares for feats
    and fears of wrestling with the beast.
    Wives were taxed for recipes of blood
    and dough and meats, yet through years
    of snarls and snells, the monster would not eat.

    One morning it was gone, and took its lore.
    The mooring dried and shriveled,
    wobbled on its legs, and stories,
    shifted to the past like chum, tried
    luring back the fish, and languid lingered:

    of their thoughts beyond the cast, the fish got none:
    how the river unseen sifted through its
    solitary heart and why, one night,
    as with elusive poems and dreams,
    it raised its dorsal mast and drifted on.

  2. says

    No fish in this poem, but I do think it fits the prompt. :)


    “Getting Away With It”

    A false apology is like
    bad writing—
    passive voice,
    vague throat-clearing,
    introductory clauses,
    and the verbs are
    if not

  3. says

    Here’s a 2nd poem for the prompt:

    The rainbow trout is perfect
    in appearance—pink swath like eyeshadow
    carefully applied, dark spots like
    planned beauty marks positioned
    with a precision-tip makeup brush.
    This fish is lure-smart
    (having been caught before)
    and knows the hooks
    to avoid.
    Slick skin, skilled maneuvers.
    He swims upstream, desiring
    the higher elevations.

  4. Jon Lewis says

    hehe made me think of one warm summer night when I was 15 at a football game I had no interest in.

    Sweet music
    starry skies
    cheering crowds and game play
    in the distance
    fleeting glances
    tentative caresses
    finger tips along my
    across my palm
    kisses stolen behind the buses
    with an out of town stranger
    walked away with dewy eyes
    a heart full of moonlight
    never knowing your last name.

  5. says

    True Story

    Silver cupped, caught
    In a trap they set
    Baited with mackerel
    Thirty miles out
    Sunrise on deck
    Coffee cup in hand
    Dolphins eating catch
    Leaving us with empty hook

    A shark, they said, a baby one,
    You can’t keep him
    Trigger fish, release it, they said,
    Yesterday was the last day for that one
    We brush away biting flies
    We lean into the whispers of the waves
    Deep seas lure the fishers among us
    Whether of men or swimming creatures—
    And many get away.

  6. says

    Remaining In The Shallow Water

    We push off
    With both feet
    Hot like two fiery embers
    Smokin’ hot
    From the splintered dock
    Equipped with
    Everything we’d need
    Vienna sausages
    Lance Crackers
    And Diet Coke
    Iced down in the Coleman
    Beside the beer
    Along with
    Plenty of desire
    And hope
    That this would be the day
    We’d fight
    He’d flail
    Then lose
    And we’d prevail
    Conquerors of salty brackish seas
    My love
    And me
    Dreaming of elusive trophies in our nets

    At the end of day
    Fatigued and wearied travelers
    Arrive home now
    All canned potables gone
    Under a canopy of every shade of
    Pinks and oranges
    We’ve nothing
    But a panoramic view
    Of summer’s
    Sluggish setting sun

    But hope
    We realize
    That the one that got away

    Would have sunk us
    Capsized our little ship
    And we
    With wild desires and dreams
    Seem glutenous
    As we Monday morning
    A bit

    Now that we arrive
    Back home
    Tie up and wobble weary
    Down the sun-bleached dock
    We discover
    From surveying our
    Wet and empty nets

    We are happier
    Having bagged
    No treasures
    Nothing bleeds
    From the bent end of
    Rod or reel and rusty hook

    No noticeable triumph
    With scales or gills
    No victory
    From our time
    Away at sea

    Simply, home now
    Empty handed

    The treasure was
    The journey

    In our small
    Blue-green wooden
    Out on the great big salty
    My man and me
    Settling for nothing
    Conquerors, we won the battle

    We bagged

  7. says

    Let Loose The Net Of Greed

    Wet, water-logged
    Dripping saline droplets
    From his holey net
    Skin like leather
    Dried, cracked
    From years at sea
    He took
    Only what he would need
    To feed
    His neighbor and

    In that order
    A fisherman
    Of great, great wealth
    Living not
    In poverty


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