The Catch

It was midnight. He pulled fish from the river
with a bright slapping sound, held them
bucking in the light of his fog lamps
while the engine steamed and snorted.

When he called me over I hid my notepad.
He said that now was the best time
and dipped his hands into the creaming flow;
moments later, he gripped a dace.
It was as if he had reached into a painting on a hot day
and retrieved a jug brimming with cider.

His adventures girdled the Earth,
and when he named the fish, he was naming the gods:
brittle star, lookdown, pacu, shanny.
He said his wife used to curse the late nights,
turn like a sack of rags when he crawled into bed
at 4, 5.
Now he could stay out as late as he liked.
He sat, wiped his palms on a grubby flannel.
Rainbows billowed in the water vapour.

I couldn’t think of anything to say
so I offered him a cough sweet;
he slipped it into his top pocket.
By his shin, six fish slopped in a bucket,
each one a gauntlet. He stood, and threw the lot back in.
Rushes hissed in the hot black wind;
we could not see the far bank, but we smelt it.

If you enjoyed this, you might enjoy my poetry collection, Pub Stuntman. You can order it here.

You also might like my album of songs and poems, Jesus Buys Me Cigarettes. You can order a physical copy, or download it from iTunes.

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