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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 23: 28 April 2024
Haibun Story: 229 words
(Also, braided haibun)
By Lew Watts

The Man With the Mercury Engine


It started as a simple story. Of a Man, who lived in a cottage by the sea. Who went out to fish each day in his little boat. With its black Mercury engine, putt-puttering along. With time, I told them more. How the members of the local club would laugh as he crossed the harbor. Until the day of the storm.


It was a Saturday, and the Man had stayed at home. But the big boats of the club went out to fish, despite the warnings. Suddenly, a voice on the cottage radio. “Mayday! Mayday! The sea is too steep, and our engines are flooded!”

in the growing darkness

And so, the Man rushed to help. The waves were big. But his boat was short. It could climb up and over the crests, its Mercury engine coughing and spluttering until he reached the commodore’s craft. He towed that boat back to port. Then went out again, and again, until he’d rescued them all. And from that day on, no one laughed at The Man with the Mercury Engine ever again.

welling up

“Write it down, Dad,” they often said. And I never did. Because this way, each night is their own. Each version owned and loved. Each plea of “And again!” earned.

lump in my throat
a granddaughter asks
where I live

Lew Watts
Issue 23 (April 2024)

is the author of Tick-Tock, a haibun collection that received an Honorable Mention in the Haiku Society of America’s 2020 Merit Book Awards, and Eira, a collection of haiku that received a 2023 Touchstone Award; both books are from Snapshot Press. Lew is also the co-author, with Roberta Beary and Rich Youmans, of Haibun: A Writer’s Guide (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2023). He is the haibun co-editor of Frogpond and holds an honorary doctorate from Bristol University. Born and raised in Wales, he now lives in Chicago with his wife, Roxanne Decyk. His other passions are fly fishing and gin martinis.

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