The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife

Maybe not one for calamari fans, this too first saw the light of day in PIR. A simple poem about jealousy (one of the new collection’s central themes) but inspired by a shunga woodcut by Hokusai, who turns up in another of the poems.

Click on the title for the image that sets the tone…

Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife
After Hokusai

The fisherman’s wife’s licked out by one octopus
and French-kissed by another, a tentacle
gripped in a passionate fist. It’s just a dream,
she says, and not even a pleasant dream.
The fisherman is upset by the whole spectacle
and retires to his boat for a month of net-
mending, keel-scraping, caulking and sake.
It isn’t just the cunnilingus

that he finds impossible to forget.
The whole human-marine genre, the tacky
fish-porn predictability of her lust
tortures his days like the refusal of the cherry
to blossom. He can’t believe she loves him. But it’s just
a dream, she says. I’ve said I’m sorry, and I’m sorry.


About Martin Mooney

Author of four collections of poetry - Grub (1993), Rasputin and his Children (2000), Blue Lamp Disco (2003) and The Resurrection of the Body at Killysuggen (2011.)
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3 Responses to The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife

  1. megan says:


  2. David Green says:

    Long distance gambles are not often successful but this poem is already on my shortlist for ‘best poem of 2011’.
    It underestimates the poem to call it ‘simple’ when the rhyme scheme contains such slimy eroticism and powerful reactions to it alongside ‘mundane’ conversational phrases charged with passion.
    I love the escape from the horror into routine, ‘a month of net-mending, keel-scraping, caulking and sake’; the way it places it all into a ‘genre’ and the ‘predictability of her lust’ as well as the compacted frustration of ‘the refusal of the cherry to blossom.’
    But there’s no point in me just quoting all the lines to say how good it is, especially when my favourite is the last sentence, so emphatic in its loss for words.
    Neither is there any need for me to give away here any other ideas I have about a review of the forthcoming book except to say I’m looking forward to it very much.
    But this looks to me an exceptional poem by any standards.

    • Thanks David! I was going to say that I enjoyed writing it but … this was one of those cliched moments when the thing seemed to do the heavy lifting by itself. Well, that’s sonnets for you.

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