Trawler

by John Fitzsimmons | Fires in the Belly

Leave the fog stillness
of a cold harbor town;
cup our hands
in the warm diesel sound—
leave while the children
are calmed in their dreams
by light buoys calling:
“Don’t play around me.”

The kids think their daddy
is so sure where to steer;
they throw in our holds
what they catch from the pier—
they throw in our holds
their after-school days;
what our nets couldn’t drag
will still be okay.

Okay keep your head up
and take care of the home.
I’ll call you next week
on the radiophone.
You say: “Yo, Captain Joe,
on the Marilyn Joe.
Make a beeline back home
on the Marilyn Joe

Creaking and groaning
play it for me.
We’re the whitecapped and crazy
slaves of the sea—
haul away
heave away
keep what you will;
with a fire in your belly
the holes that you fill.

We leave the bay shallows—
be a waste of our time
to drag empty waves
for a pure lucky find.
We leave the bay shallows
for the edge of the shelf
where the warm waters slide
to a cold deeper self.

There on the edge
we drift nets in the night;
we winch and we pray
and bitch for the light.
We winch and we pray
and bitch for the day—
‘Hook on to the rail
and get out of my way!”

“Get out of your bunk’s mates,
and get up from below.
Get into your oilskins—
she’s coming up slow:
We’ll say: ‘yo, Captain Joe,
on the Marilyn Joe.
Bring her into the wind:
Oh, the Marilyn Joe.”

Creaking and groaning
play it for me.
We’re the whitecapped and crazy
slaves of the sea—
haul away
heave away
keep what you will;
with a fire in your belly
the holes that you fill.

We gut all the night,
and pack all the day;
count down to each man
this feast of the waves.
Some take it back
to some love they have found;
some like the wind
they’ll just blow around town.

Six days on the Banks,
our eyes heavy as stones,
we chart a course
that will take us back home.
Docked at the pier,
with our kids by our sides,
we bitch about haddock
the market won’t buy.

We’ll sing: “Yo, Captain Joe.
on the Marilyn joe,
When will we go
on the Marilyn Joe?
No I don’t mind the rain,
or the wind or the snow—
We’ll set out the trawl
on the Marilyn Joe.”

Creaking and groaning
play it for me.
We’re the whitecapped and crazy
slaves of the sea—
haul away
heave away
keep what you will;
with a fire in your belly
the holes that you fill.

 

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