Prana Mandoe

The Net


I. The Net

the net drops out of darkness

a waterfall a cascade of stars


over our black tube

slides into the black sea

as my boy and I

cross the cold-mouthed river


stroking back over the net

watery shore-lights

glint on a fish

in the murk between worlds

I dive for it,

grasp its body, grip its gills

hang onto thrashing, kicking food


below the surface

I struggle with the fish in hand

tugging suji out from scales,

over fins, but

breathless, I drop the net

swim up toward sky

left breath, stroke, stroke


Maui’s fish-hook sparkles to the south

right breath, stroke, stroke

the Big Dipper swings around the pole

fish-hook, shoulder, stroke,

dipper, backbone, stroke

glitter, neck-turn, twist

sparkle, darkness, this


o cosmic ocean you




feed us common folk

who evade

the game warden


II. The Warden


we see him

in his boots

with his gun

one booming morning

when the sharks eat seal

and we hope to catch

inside on the ebb tide

I got a call

anybody seen anybody

laying net

I am truthful

though he may

teach me to lie

our net does not

announce its presence

with surface floaters

which he discloses

are legally required

the boys and I

pick up the net


put it down here

he puts it in his truck

and gives my husband

a yellow carbon



III. The Crux


and here is the crux

of the matter


who oversaw the destruction

of a land renamed fee simple


the lifestyle of fishermen,

the women picking limu


their grounds are a vortex now

of marine bases and traffic snarl


invasive seaweeds

choke the broken walls


the homes fill with wrecked cars

crushed cans and extension cords


the families who

enforced their own limits,


dependent on the catch

broiled at the beach,


sucked raw in the boat,

hung dry from the rafters


are on their way to dialysis while

conservation enforcement



the survivors

Prana Joy Mandoe speaks English, Danish, and Hawaiian; she kneads the cultures together in her writing and home life. She teaches eighth grade U.S. History by day, then writes poetry when her family sleeps. Her work has recently appeared in Hawaiʻi Pacific Review, Buddhist Poetry Review, and Bamboo Ridge Journal.