Morning Fishing Trips

A September Saturday in 1995
the four a.m. sea air is salt-sour
silicate sand shimmers
under the after-midnight-blue canopy
the waning moon a spotlight
on discarded worm skins

I dig since I’m the youngest –
because even morning fishing trips have hierarchies –
success arrives after ten minutes
of shovel and scoop
we loot the fresh bait
they can wriggle all they want
we own them now

we march in early morning muteness
preserving our energy
until we can cast off
and pour ourselves a flask-coffee
topped with a nip of whisky

destination reached we pick our spots
wisely or not
our rods are set
with hands stained with dying worm-dye

waiting for the first ripple
or bend of pole
the craic is quiet
about the things men like to talk about
as dawn passes over us

an hour passes by
then three of five rods
begin to quiver
the ancient part of our hunter-brains
spike our natural instincts

we let our rods sway
luring in the line tenderly
then reel rapidly
drawing in a decent-sized pollock
the crack of the baton
gives me the first of a few fish
caught before the nearby B&B’s
serve their breakfasts.

After some further success
we head back to the van
our shoal are all fair sizes
my pollock glimmering longest in the bucket
but hierarchies exist
and I may get landed with a small plaice
but where there are hierarchies
there are rites of passage
and it’s the first fish i’ve caught
so I get to keep it

I also get to gut all the catch
my fumbling numb fingers
dyed crimson by dead fish
find their rhythm
and I’m proud to be
on the first
rung of the hunter’s hierarchy.

I used to go fishing in Northumberland regularly, this poem is about when i first started out, I was 12. One of our neighbours took me with his friends, it was always a great experience.

I hope you like it.

Take it easy

Paul

The Shows

We called the travelling funfair
“The Shows”
the same way our parents did
when they arrived in The Wick
late summer excitement
that smelled of hot sugared doughnuts, flowing diesel and damp trampled grass
the air was always a kaleidoscope
of flickering lightbulbs and brightly painted plywood
shrill screams of exhiliration could be heard over a mile away
layered over a techno soundtrack
thumping with the pulses of waltzer-spun teens
and kids riding the ghost train anticipating the supersoaker squirt on exit
sometimes I liked to play the bandits
tuppence to ten-pence a go
so nothing to lose really
the games were good to –
one night I hooked six banana-yellow ducks
and walked home with six goldfish
struggling to hold the punch balloon and pink-pillow candy floss in my other hand
it was a great time to be alive
amongst crowded smiles and double denim
spending my paper round and pocket money like fun was going out of fashion
and just the other day
I saw an internet flyer
“The Shows” are back this year
travelling up and down the coast
and although I’ll not see them
I can taste the air –

the flavour of excitement.

Thanks for taking the time to read my poem and feel free to check out some of my other writing.

Take It Easy,

Paul

Wetland Character Building


I almost drowned once
down near the mill
swimming the current of the Coquet
three quarters of the way across
my legs lost power
against the undertow
I’m lucky Peck kept his eyes on me
as the river reeds
wrapped around ankles
my head bobbing up and down
like a braeburn on bonfire night
and the rest of the boys
jumped back in
like working-class Hasselhoffs
and pulled me to the side
they were much stronger swimmers than me

a quick rest and pat on the back
spitting up some of the river
then swigging back
some calming Carling
the realisation – dawned on me –
I had to swim back
facing a new fear head on
because backstroke was no good
I’m lucky I’ve got such great mates
we swam back together
like geese fly
    – in formation –
reaching the riverbank’s safety
and although my swimming didn’t improve that day
my character did.

Thanks for taking the time to read my poem, an autobiographical piece of my younger days.

Hope you liked it and if you did, feel free to leave a comment.

Take It Easy

Paul x

Dedication

I felt it was an insult that
each new street
was named after
a different species of tree
they chopped down
a lasting dedication to
rapid decimation
of the ancient woodland and hedgerow
their deaths were dealt so swiftly
that the hawthorn berries
didn’t even get time to bleed.

Now when I walk past
Oak Avenue, Ash Drive & Beech Terrace
each brimming with life
I think of the bricks, mortar and glass
I believe the woodland remains
just in a different guise
and the dedication isn’t an insult
but a celebration of what came before
that the trees that once thrived there
are a solid foundation for new roots to form.

Thanks for taking the time to read this poem, feel free to leave a comment if you wish.

An Early Date

A cornflower sky
littered haphazardly
with spluttering wispy pearls
housing an effortless sun
watched over us
as we dangled and dropped
twigs of beech, ash and elm
into the dawdling waters below
our knees planted
porous
on the sandstone bridge
absorbing some of its history
our eyes followed
the branches ferrying
along the river
stroking and slapping
against limestone and basalt
we were quiet and thoughtful
wondering where they’d end up
wondering where we’d end up
and although sometimes
silence can be deafening
on that day
the silent moments we shared
only spoke of our serenity
with each other.

Like the river
we’ll continue our meander.

The Fishermen

early morning
with the light muted
the sky still
a patchwork of slate and coal
they set sail
favours asked
of Pontus & Poseidon
hoping they are heard
over the wailing gulls and terns
they yearn for a return
to bountiful days
and bulging nets
of catching shoals of silver
in their pastel gilnetter
on the North Sea
once brimming
with fish glistening
just below the surface
when the Captain and his Crew
were daring
wide eyed wanderers
braving thunderous waves
and caressing calm waters
beating their adversaries
to the best loot
today they’re older
grizzled and weather-worn
with eyes the colour of their quarry
wearing woollen hats and neon overalls
they only dare to dream
of a fair catch and a fairer price
hoping to stay afloat
in a sinking industry.

——————————————————-

This poem is inspired by the hardworking fishermen who work the North Sea. Once a booming industry in the North East, sadly it has declined over the past 20-30 years.

——————————————————-

I love hearing your thoughts or any feedback you may have.