What I Did During the War: Fishing

Laura Serwe

We live
between the rifts
on streets where snow and melt
meet. Waters curl in gelid
fingers that fasten over papered walls
then drip down the iron sewers like fish in trawls.
Tailored flaps beating through threaded current, some percolate
out through loops, others surrender fins as the net tightens.
She-he-we are cleaned then breaded, then baked
for frozen sticks or pastry-piped tridents
from the rivers, streets. No longer cull
but now supplied, to serve
bones to the circle
we live.

Year Five


The dawn of bees drone and crawl
up drywall, across cracked laminate,
inside sconces and ceiling lights
they flicker. Uncle Jimmie’s
in heaven
—mother’s words flutter
inside my ears. I wake
buried inside her chest
and the hum of morning’s mist
vibrates against eyelids.
My nose peeks over her shoulder
watchman frozen at his post.
Corners and hallways
then dad,
bent over the hive his foot nudges,
whistles and laughs
at the queen who hisses
and thumps inside her drum.


You and I back away
                        We trip
            Ear palpitates

Father soldiers over him
            Buzz hum
Bees pollinate
            Grandpa’s nose

            Between antennae
                        Whisker scratch
My father chants
            Spoil the rod Spare the child

            Mother presses
Pocket posies
            But I pick out of mouths
Ashes to ashes to ashes to


Boxed beds open side by side,
Left side—grandpa
Right side—son,
alone for a moment inside
the hive that spins. I ring
around the rosie,
fall down and stare
into crystal colonies that flutter
under eyelids. The girlfriend
brainwashed him
, they hum
over Uncle Jimmie.
Worker bees stuck,
half-jammed between father
and son. She leans me over
mahogany casket and I trace
the stitched grain laces in his ear,
shell for buried shrapnel blame.
Behind us grandpa rattles
at the thump of my father’s foot.
As he nudges the queen’s casket
he hums, we all fall down.

The Proposal

Your promises
are raw meat in my stomach.
Boils into an acid-foam that will rise,
rise, in the heat it multiplies.
The rim,
on the rim—
Adam in the dirt his shirt
a noose for the mare.
Unequivocal this mute,
huffs the red enamel of a screw.

This insipid black rock.
This is your life—
bells in the humdrum of a day,
they swell,
baby blue and yellow.

Year in and out the dead skeg of a cock
or flowers from the peddler—
raw iron of power,
now glib-dribble he is a flirt.
Maybe in the Day-Glo
this radioactive airplane will fly
psychedelic sunshine.
But in steam, the pale gleam of a kitchen
will blind this cut-stone like a clot.

Laura Serwe holds a BA in English from the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay. She is currently applying for her MFA—fingers crossed. You can find other work of hers living at Mad Hat Lit, Bank Heavy Press, Rock River Review, and Sheepshead Review. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband.