Commercial Fisherman

I have taken every third word I heard today
gathered them up and dumped them in a pile
Some I jammed in a pill bottle with other acid reminders
a random chemical family. Maybe they will work things out

Some I hung in a tree like a wishbone
Pull one end to see if you are lucky or not
Some I laid out like plastic trash above the tide line
in between the clumps of seaweed

Some I scratched on the side of the doorless outhouse
we set up facing the ocean to watch for returning boats
Some went for new, inventive labels on the grape wine
we made when it was too rough to fish

The rest is personal packing to keep my insides
from falling out, wrapped around the thing
that makes no sense. Duncan’s body, or what was left of it
washed up in a tide pool. The top all gone
just the legs up to the backbone. He still had
his white socks on. No boots though

A freak sea, a big wave over the false bar
and the channel inshore of it, quick sandy on the inside
His boat probably swamped coming in over the bar
and he fell in, got dragged under, numbed by the cold
and had no time to kick his boots off

His Dad walked the shore everyday
until he found him. Some in the tide pool
and farther on, other parts of him
all chewed up by crabs and sand fleas

Once, Duncan and I were fishing off of Port Hardy
The sea got big and was so seasick I slipped
and got knocked out. It was all Duncan could do
to handle the boat. I woke up with one eye swollen shut
and vomit and blood and fish scales everywhere
These words, glassy and staring back at me
as I write them, make me sick like that

2 responses to “Commercial Fisherman

  1. Oh …. this is brutally graphic and raw. I scarcely know how to respond as a reader. ‘Like’ does not feel adequate or appropriate. The poem seems to confront tragedy squarely and unflinchingly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the close read and the response, John. I may have gone a bit over the line on this one. It is sometimes hard to know how much truth to let into a poem.


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