FISH TALES: Honorable Mentions

“Swings Below Sea,” by Gabriella Alexis; Inspired by: Fishermen Returning to Boyton Inlet

“Caught,” by JoAnn Steger Hoffman; Inspired by: Sam Ogren Sr. & Jr. Father Son Fish from Delray to Bimini

“Under the Boat,” by Stephanie Casio; Inspired by: Fishermen Returning to Boyton Inlet

“My Old Man and the Sea: A Cento,” by Jennifer Grant; Inspired by: First sailfish, Diane (Martini) Brewer (1980)

“Catch and Release,” by Allen Sweat; Inspired by: Irwin J. Sinks’ Tackle Box, 1926

Boynton Inlet Park, Fla. — Fisherman returning to the Boynton Inlet December 2014. Photo by Peter W. Cross iPhone5s

Inspired by: Fishermen Returning to Boyton Inlet

SWINGS BELOW SEA by Gabriella Alexis

The manatees shift away from the shore,

placing the luck they have on their shoulders

keeping them safe from the weather’s downpour.

The hot and cold air is getting bolder.

Singing in the surfaces air packets,

the community contours October.

The goal is to make it through the tropics

and tread along underneath below

It forms into a dream, catastrophic.

The reality is not red bordeaux

it’s merely the only fallow.

Gabriella Alexis is a senior at Miami Arts Charter School. She majors in creative writing and is a published author. She has recently been published in Rattle, Orange Island and Creative Communication. She lives in Miami with her mother and grandmother. She loves poetry and spoken word.


Inspired by: Sam Ogren Sr. & Jr. Father Son Fish from Delray to Bimini

CAUGHT by Jo Ann Steger Hoffman

When the man and the boy

push out the boat

when they yank the cord

that binds them to the round peach light

of just-before-sunrise

when they check

the swarms of silvery mullet

in the bait pail —

it’s not about the fish.

It’s about the boy.

About the way

the father guides the boat

across the morning channel

wakes its mirror-surface calm

and steers the son into the chop

of open water.

How the father tests the breeze

scans the surround

gauges the depth

steadies the keel.

How he models the cast

and watches the boy

then watches the boy

reel in the catch —

caught in the sport of father and son.

It’s about the boy

who helms the boat home

and stands next to the man,

the magnificent fish

weighing the space between them.

Jo Ann Steger Hoffman is a writer, editor, and former corporate communications director whose publications include a children’s book, short fiction and a variety of poems in literary journals, including The Merton Quarterly, Pinesong, Fall Lines and New Verse News. Her 2010 non-fiction book, Angels Wear Black, recounts the only technology executive kidnapping to occur in California’s Silicon Valley. A native of Toledo, Ohio, she and her husband now live in Cary and Beaufort, North Carolina.

Boynton Inlet Park, Fla. — Fisherman returning to the Boynton Inlet December 2014. Photo by Peter W. Cross iPhone5s


Inspired by: Fishermen Returning to Boyton Inlet

UNDER THE BOAT by Stephanie Casio

Fish shoot across the water like stars overhead

their scales glinted akin to wishes kissed by kids

that have been hoping and praying in their beds.

Nanay says not to swim deeper, she forbids,

but I know gems are found along the sea floor

like shining sand dollars waiting to be bid.

I dream of coral castles with tortoise doors

to dance with clown fishes and sea horses,

and battle lions with poisoned barbed armor.

Turning and tumbling with the ocean’s forces

I let it guide me with motherly hands

to places unknown. The salty spray coerces,

and through my goggles I sift through the sand

finding the beauty in fertile flooded lands.


*Nanay: “mother” in the Filipino dialect of Ilonggo

Stephanie Casio (she/they) is a senior from Miami Arts Charter who is in the creative writing program. They enjoy writing subject matters close to their heart such as their Filipino heritage and mixing elements of it into their poetry and prose. On days they are not writing their fantasy novel about pirates or creating cathartic poems, they are elbow deep in AP Psych homework and can’t wait to get exams over and done with.”


Inspired by: First Sailfish, 1980,
Papa Hemingway and Tina Chang’s ‘Hybrid Beast’

MY OLD MAN AND THE SEA: A Cento, by Jennifer Grant

Where are you?

Father, champion angler who


phosphorescence in Gulf weed.

So kind, so beautiful, so cruel

blue formalized iridescence





Hard, cold

and lovely

in pitch

Of night.

Don’t be shy.

Take reel and rod, devote

attention to waiting work.

You told and told for years only boys


gripping claws like soaring eagles.

Alone now, I fear I’ll vomit,

lose strength before first light.

The moon illuminates from behind,

shadowing you, my long deceased dad:

Born to be

a fisherman just as a fish was born

to be a fish.

Feeling faint, I clutch tightly—

dip my quivering pole overboard

Follow the tide.

Jennifer Grant’s poem, “My Old Man and the Sea: A Cento,” surfaced after listening to poet Tina Chang’s discussion on ‘The Hybrid Beast’ at this year’s Palm Beach Poetry Festival. Jennifer combined a dash of fishing and a little Papa (Hemingway, that is) to the mix. Her first hybrid collection, which meanders through the alphabet of poetic form, Good Form, is now available through Negative Capability Press. She lives in Gainesville, FL.

Inspired by Irwin J. Sinks’ Tackle Box, 1926



The wooden box sits with a lead heart

in an attic corner yet it’s filled with

memories caught long ago

in the flashy chrome of the lake now

sealed among hooks dulled by

sandpaper mouths of bass, line frayed

rough as the dorsal of giant mahi mahi

pulled free on a winter afternoon.

Trophies with their own stories.

Go ahead, open it. Feel how sharp

memories grab at your hand like

the Creek Chub plug diving for that next

world record. How the bobber, red

bottom barely dry, flashes you like

a new toy straight out of the package

bought yesterday at the hardware store.

As you close the lid for 90 more years

light the cigar and listen to the brown worm

beg for release back into Lake Ida’s

green waters or the yellow fly’s plead

to float the blue Gulf Stream currents

in hopes of hooking another spirit

racing against time to net the hope

found in each new Delray morning.

Allen Sweat was born and raised in Athens, Georgia and lives in West Palm Beach, Florida with his wife and children where he works in the aerospace industry.  As an outdoor enthusiast he enjoys fishing deep inside the Everglades and along the coastal waters of South Florida.  His work is forthcoming in Apalachee Review and has appeared in publications such as The Liner and Emerge Literary Journal.  He studies with the Writer’s Studio in New York.