The Undersea Crossing Guard

by Kris Herndon and Lorraine Schein

By order of M.E.R.M.—Mermaids’ Education and Resistance Movement

Touch not the coral.
Touch not the fish.
The sea’s not your playground
to use as you wish!

A black and white ink drawing of a crossing guard mermaid. She floats in the water with her tail folded beneath her, holding a stop sign in her right arm and resting on her shoulder. Her left hand is up, open-palmed, in a "stop" hand sign toward the viewer. Her hair falls over her chest and left eye in waves and small bubbles trail her. She is surrounded by fish, an eel, a nautilus, and two seahorses. Beneath her there is a banner that reads "IN the NAME of FISH"
Illustration by Kris Herndon

I’m the undersea crossing guard from S.W.I.M.*
protecting my class of sea children.
I teach them how to recognize and avoid
those who would poach, hook, and cook us.

I stop the encroaching overfishers, waste dumpers, coral harvesters…
all the air-breathing enemies of our ocean home from going farther.

But I wave through other fish, friendly snorkelers, scuba divers,
fellow mermaids, selkies, pirate ghosts, and oceanographers.

*Society for the Welfare of Imperiled Marinelife

© Copyright Kris Herndon and Lorraine Schein

Kris Herndon is a writer, musician and artist whose byline has appeared in The New York Times, Reader’s Digest, Entrepreneur, Wired, Metropolis, Think, Stop Smiling, Paste, Art Papers, Architecture Boston, and many other publications. Find her at @herndy on Twitter and Instagram, and see more of her work at

Lorraine Schein is a New York writer. Her work has appeared in VICE, Terraform, Strange Horizons, Enchanted Conversation, NewMyths, and Eye to the Telescope, and in the anthologies Tragedy Queens: Stories Inspired by Lana del Rey & Sylvia Plath and XVIII: Stories of Mischief & Mayhem. The Futurist’s Mistress, her poetry book, is available from Mayapple Press:

Read the Rest of the April Issue

2 thoughts on “The Undersea Crossing Guard

  1. Amanda Niehaus-Hard June 16, 2021 — 8:12 pm

    I’m a land-based crossing guard and I approve of this message 🙂 What a cool poem!


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