Visual Inspiration—Photo Prompt #19

Let this image engage your muse. Write a paragraph, a short story, a poem, a memory, a journal entry…or whatever you feel inspired to create. And share your creations in the comments if you’d like!


8 Responses to “Visual Inspiration—Photo Prompt #19”

  1. 1 mary November 23, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    what the devil? fishheads on chessboard. fish tails. i’ve had an obsession with fish since college. fish signatures, fish symbols. fish things. but not tshirts and key chains.

    “a fish by any other name would smell…”

    you’d think i’d be overly inspired but i stare and stare at this photo and i force some kind of weak poem out and delete. at least you’ve got me thinking. i have posted you on my own blogroll. this is a great site.

    i will also be creating my own Muse. i really like that idea. interestingly, i was thinking the other day that i should start getting up early in the morning to write and just as i was thinking about how i’m a night owl, i read the part where you said you are not a morning person…and i knew i could do it.


    • 2 stranglingmymuse November 24, 2010 at 1:13 pm

      Thanks for putting me on your blogroll, Mary! And I’m glad you feel inspired to create your own Muse. As for the fish chessboard, I can’t decide if I like this picture or not. But juxtaposing two things that don’t go together is always a good creative exercise, which is why I posted this picture. I’m glad it got you thinking. And if I can get up early to write, I know you can too. Good luck!


  2. 3 herby November 28, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    This is my unedited stream of conscious story inspired by the fish on the chess board.


    Jock wasn’t a fisherman. In fact, Josh hated the ocean. For one, he couldn’t swim. And secondly, he hated the strong stench of fish that emanated from the bowels of the Mary Jane. He was only here on the boat to make a quick dollar to set himself up for life.

    His fellow deck hand, Angus, was as thick as two planks. He had followed Jock onto the vessel because it’s what Angus did: follow Jock. He didn’t seem to care either way about the fishing. As far as Angus was concerned, life was what it was and there was no use thinking too hard about whether you enjoyed it or not.

    They made an odd pair, these two lads from the country. More used to the stories of bush rangers and cowboys, they had found their way to the sea after getting into trouble in their home town. The short and muscular Jock was quick on his feet and faster with his fists. Angus, with his big frame and large belly, was more adept at plodding and rarely bothered to fight, relying on his large frame to scare the world away.

    The stench of the fish mingled with the stink of the unwashed boys as they worked on the deck.

    ‘Get your backs into it you lazy land lubbers,’ shouted Mick from the wheel house, ‘My grandmother could haul fish nets faster than you.’

    ‘Oh shut yer face,’ Jock mumbled under his breath.

    His body was tired and he’d had enough. Besides, he had a plan and Mick was just an intrusion. Jock wasn’t planning on making his money honestly. No, he knew just how valuable a full fishing kit was and he had a buyer in mind.

    The day wore on and the sun blazed down onto the deck. There was no shelter in which Jock and Angus could seek refuge and no end in sight.

    ‘I hate this,’ Jock said to Angus.

    ‘Then why did you get us into it?’ Angus asked.


    Jock didn’t want to give Angus too much information. He knew from experience that the big fellow couldn’t keep a secret and didn’t have the guts to carry anything out. And this plan was too good to spoil. This plan would bring both infamy and fortune, not to mention bragging rights down at the bar.

    Mick watched on from the wheel house. He was disappointed with himself for hiring the sullen-faced boys who could barely keep themselves from throwing up overboard as the ship rolled on the relatively calm sea. He wondered why he had felt sorry for them and why he’d decided not to take the other two men who probably knew a little more about the game. But it was too late for regrets and Mick knew, from too many years at sea, that there was no point thinking about the ‘what ifs’.

    Besides, Mick hadn’t grown up on the sea either. He’d started life as a city slicker, working in a factory building trailers. He hadn’t even set foot on a boat until the day he boarded his first fishing vessel back in 1971, when he was barely nineteen years old. He’d not had the stomach for the roll of the ocean then either and, much like the lads on the deck, he had to hold on just to keep his footing. But at least he’d not been sullen about it.

    ‘Oi, old man! Get to your feet!’

    The words came at Mick like a shot. He was disoriented by his surprise and the aggression in the voice. How had Jock got behind him so quickly? Hadn’t he just been down on the deck?

    ‘You heard me old man! Get to your feet or I’ll slit your throat!’ Jock’s voice boomed through the wheel house again.

    ‘What do you think you are doing?’ Mick was incensed.

    ‘Taking over! You get over here!’ Jock ordered.

    Mick saw the glint of a blade in Jock’s hand and noticed the menace in Angus’ eyes. Jock had only shared his plan moments ago and Angus simply complied with Jock’s instructions. He too held a knife, ready to cut the old skipper at Jock’s word.

    ‘You won’t be able to skipper the boat,’ said Mick, ‘You really haven’t thought this through.’

    ‘Piss off old man. I was watching you last night. Why do you think I bothered to sit up here listening to you drone on?’ Jock’s response was callous.

    ‘There’s a storm coming boys,’ warned Mick as he stood up from his chair.

    ‘Yeah right! It’s sunny and hot out there. You’re just trying to scare us. Now GET OUT!’ shouted Jock.

    ‘Yeah! Get out or I’ll cut yer throat,’ threatened Angus.

    Mick recognised from Angus’s face that anything was possible. As he stood up, Jock grabbed him and shoved him down the stairs.

    ‘You do it,’ he instructed Angus.

    Angus pushed Mick down the stairs and out onto the deck. He’d been instructed to lock him in the bait room until Jock told him what to do. Once out of Jock’s sight, Mick threw a punch that landed square on Angus’s cheek.

    ‘You mother!’ yelled Angus, shoving Mick in the back.

    The skipper slid across the floor and landed against a wall with a thud. He didn’t move. A trickle of blood started to flow from his ears.

    ‘Jock! Jock!’ Angus shouted the words in a panic.

    Jock ran to the bleeding skipper.

    ‘What did you do? You idiot!’ Jock exclaimed, chastising his friend.

    ‘He hit me so I shoved him. I didn’t mean it.’

    ‘Man, we gotta do something to clean this up,’ said Jock, suddenly calm, ‘Chuck him overboard while I clean this mess up. The buyer won’t want the boat with this blood everywhere.’

    Angus did as he was told. He picked the now flopping body of the skipper up and dragged it out onto the deck. He stood the body against the railing and dropped it heavily overboard. With a splash, the skipper was gone. Never to be seen again.

    Jock was as good as his word and cleaned the blood from the floor and wall. Not a trace was left. After he had finished, he went back to the wheel house and turned the boat north as his buyer had told him to.

    Within an hour, rain drops started to splash against the window of the wheel house. They were small drops at first quickly becoming larger until nothing was visible outside the wheel house window. The wind picked up too. It grew from a mild sea breeze into a roaring ocean storm. The kind that would send most hardened fishermen looking for the shelter of the nearest bay.

    But Jock was no fisherman and he didn’t know how to read the maps, let alone navigate out at sea. There were no roads and no street signs. All he knew was that the buyer had told him to go north and had shown him how to read the compass. So that’s what he did.

    The sea whipped itself into a frenzy as the stormy rain lashed at the vessel. What had seemed to Jock to be a large enough boat now seemed like a tiny speck caught in the ocean’s fury.

    It was too late when he saw the wave. It came from nowhere and was larger than any Jock had ever seen. The wave loomed up ahead of the boat and Jock panicked. Not knowing what to do, he turned the wheel hard to try to avoid the monster wave breathing down on the bow of the boat. He tried to run.

    As the boat’s side turned to the wave it was sucked upwards along the wave’s face. The boat was broadside by the time it reached the peak. The white caps were no longer caps, rather, they were full torrents of water. They bubbled and hissed around the boat.

    ‘I can’t hold on!’ screamed Jock, no longer the calm mutineer he’d been just hours earlier.

    ‘What have you done?’ cried Angus.

    The lads fell silent as the horror of the situation dawned on them. It felt like slow motion to them both as the wave crashed forward, crushing the boat down into the sea. As the boat flipped violently across the water’s surface Jock and Angus flew around the wheelhouse like rag dolls. They crashed into the walls and furniture, bruising and cutting their bodies.

    And then, abruptly, the violence ended. The Mary Jane flipped upside down, the cabin now upside down below the ocean’s surface. The lads’ bodies joined that of Mick in their watery grave. All plans and thoughts of fortune gone. Infamy, however, would still remain.

    The fishing vessel remained upturned in the rolling waves. The storm passed and, hours later, the Air Sea Rescue helicopter spotted the abandoned boat. The events of the day would forever remain a mystery to all but those who were aboard, that fateful day Mick lost his game of chess with the sea.

  3. 5 nisha December 2, 2010 at 3:52 am

    The Break

    When I see this visual, I see a start and an end.
    When I met you first, that’s exactly what happened.
    It was love at first sight; I had already married you in my head
    Together I imagined our lives, together I imagined us dead.

    What I didn’t see was the chessboard, and how we lose ourselves in it
    Our moves determine our destiny and it really didn’t seem to fit.

    In an attempt to move ahead and win each battle
    It became unimportant to see the head and tail.
    We even failed to see the beauty of the unseen fin
    If we had, what a wonderful life it would have been!

    p.s. my first time here and I already love your blog!

    • 6 herby December 2, 2010 at 3:57 am

      Wow Nisha, I hope you don’t my commenting that I love your poem. It’s very powerful and emotive.

      • 7 stranglingmymuse December 2, 2010 at 7:32 pm

        Nisha, thanks so much for submitting this wonderful piece of writing. I agree with herby that what you’ve written is powerful!

        And I’m glad you like my blog!


  1. 1 Short story – A Fisherman’s Game | Living As Herby Trackback on November 29, 2010 at 3:37 am

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