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by Pemaquid 

Posted: 16 September 2004
Word Count: 265

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-- off a painting by Stephen Busch

My day’s catch slaps about my feet
like chickens flapping speechlessly, wet and messy.
I toss them by name: cod at the bow, halibut in the stern –
haddock center to the keel, sectioned by boards.

A halibut can weigh more than a man. Yanked from the sea,
hauled into the open air, my fish writhes violently
lunging after its breath. The air is gray, moist and wet.
I’m breathing with an open mouth. Heaving a heavy club

I stun the fish and shove my gob stick down its throat –
two prongs around the hook -- and twist.
I sing for home against the slapping
of the water on the dory’s bottom.

My time at sea is numbered
by the fish I catch each day
and how I pray,
my lines, each hook a lure,
for me and my dear Sally
to lie along a summer field,
and kiss behind the prickly rose hips
high above the ocean bay.

My trawl lines float numbered-off barrels bobbing in the sea.
A fog rolls in, rising off the bow. Hand over hand
I work to fill my boat in a sea turned black, draped
in rolls of gray-white tapestry. I’m in a liquid room alone.

Alone, I hum and dream of Sally waving on to me.
Blow, horn, blow; I hear your breath like an image
in a dream, a mate responding to my anxious call.
Off the bow of mother ship there’s me, my horn and home.

George V. Van Deventer
September 2004

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Comments by other Members

Elsie at 23:16 on 16 September 2004  Report this post
Hi George - welcome to WW. Very atmospheric poem, I liked especially the 'liquid room' and gray- white tapestry, and 'lunging after it's breath.' I'm interested to know why the fourth stanza is a different line length (not that it's a bad thing!) but I suspect you are more advanced at poetry than I - so I'm just interested..

Pemaquid at 00:55 on 17 September 2004  Report this post
Dear Elsie,

The fourth stanza should be italicized and indented in a variety of line breaks. It is supposed to represent a song of longing the doryman creates, dreamily, in the rhythm of his work for the woman he left behind. In other words - a personal, improvisational ballad by a lonely fisherman far from home. Thanks for your comment, (I could not figure out how to put the fourth stanza in italics or set up the proper line breaks). george

Kaydee at 08:52 on 17 September 2004  Report this post
Welcome to WW, George. Excellent first posting. The imagery really drew me into the poem. I particularly liked the second stanza and the comparison between the breathing of the fish and the fisherman. Nice work

anisoara at 20:53 on 24 September 2004  Report this post

This is beautiful. Very realistic, too. My man's a fisherman, and it's the same world that you write about on the boat.

You can put your text in italics by using [ i ] at the beginning (without the spaces) and [ / i ] after.

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