Every February the Pacific turns into lyric. The “Fisher Poets Gathering” in Astoria, Oregon is providing the opportunity to share thoughts and adventures with the crowd for Americas seamen. They just need to dare to get on stage.
I don’t miss the bar crossing and backreakin’ toil.
The ice forks and shovels and salt-water boils.
Diesel-fouled foc’sles with ironing-board bunks.
The stink and the sweat. the gurry and funk.
I don’t miss the buck, the band and the roll.
Kidney punchin’ nor’ westers and nut-numbin’ cold.
Pickin’ dog sharl from every mesh in the net.
Or sortin’ the tow while you stand an your head.
Nah, there ain’t much about fishin’ that I really miss
Except bringin’ home Ziplocas of fresh filleted fish.
You’d deliver the catch and tie up the boat.
Be the cock of the walk when your feet hit the float.
Just a snoose-chewin’ ol’ deckhand, but by god 6 by golly
you’re walkin’ tall with ten pounds of Petrale.
My wife’s a fisherman’s daughter, a good-lookin’ Swede.
Her ancestors rowed boats with their hands
and picked fish with their feet.
If it swims, she’ll eat it -she can bake, broil or grill it.
She’s a highliner with a cast iron skillet.
She beer-batters Red Rock, True Cod and Ling.
Her Dover sole rollups are fit for a king.
She pan-fries Rex. English and Sand Dabs to boot.
She can make a gourmet fish dinner from a herringbone suit.
Sometimes at night, in a tea cozy warm bed,
I think of the years that I stood on my head.
Draggin’, crabbin’ and Albacore jiggin’.
I miss the fish, but I don’t miss the fishin’.*
*poem by legendary Astorian fisherman-poet Geeno Leech.