a note*

Everything I post here I have previously published on the many other blogs I have had. This is a place for my favourites to rest. These are the wings that taught me i could fly and that there is life waiting, far beyond the ridge.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bad Luck Nate

Many years ago, 1993 to be exact, I wrote a poem for a newspaper in a town in Alaska that I once commercial fished from. (Homer) So, in the spirit of Robert Service;

Bad Luck Nate

three days deep into Kachemak
can leave a man broken and spent
in pursuit of game known as halibut
to pay back the cash that was lent

silent miles of line work the bottom
while twelve footers on top must be fought
while wading through fish to be gutted
(ya can't sell the things if they rot)

while sliding back into the harbour
the Salty Dawg beckons and calls
you've done what you should
caught what you could
come in and let me cure all

inside it's a mass celebration
for those that came in bottom-full
and the one's that played the bad hunches
stare at whiskey with eyes sorrowful

the telling of two-hundred pounders
and sets that left barrels red hot
stories must grow from whiskey'ed up lips
no matter if true or if not

sitting alone at the end of the bar
getting bent was Bad Luck Nate
fish somehow know the boat he'll be on
and avoid the hooks with his bait

never catching a ride on the same boat twice
the tale of a jinx travels fast
again, he'll swear to give it all up
of halibut, he's seen his last

but he'll catch the fever again next time
when a captain finds himself needing
"be on my crew, I know that you're due
to catch the fish down there feeding"

but nights like this, we avoid poor Nate
except for a pat on the back
none will dare remind him
bout his luck, or the money he'll lack

what he lacks in luck
he makes up for in size
six-four going two-fifty five
in a fight to death with a Kodiak
you can bet on Nate to survive

about this time a gent strolled in
well dressed and of outside descent
a cigar wedged tight in a cocky grin
and a roll that looked to be spent

bragging like none I'd heard before
of the three hour charter he took
explaining to all of his expertise
in playing the rod and the hook

"I just weighed him in at three sixty-four
hanging out back if you'd just care to see.
quite sure it will claim the jackpot
though it really don't matter to me"

"I just went out to have some fun,
had heard it a fine fish to catch.
I found it all rather boring though,
no matter the prize it will fetch"

through all, Nate never gave so much as a look
the whiskey just burned in his throat
but we all glanced to guess what he thought
of the man who parlayed his gloat

three or four of the local boys
played his story for the last very cent
then tossed him out like a greasy cod
for all of his roll had been spent

then Nate rose up to leave the bar
as obligingly, we all stepped aside
impressed by the temper the big man had kept
knowing an anger was welling inside

at closing time, we walked out back
to get a glimpse of the mighty catch
that just by chance had grabbed the hook
of such a sorry wretch

we found no fish upon the hook
but feet first there hung a limp man
the scale, it read one sixty-five
and we began to understand

though the crime was never solved
to our stories, we all held fast
next night he bought the first round
Nate's luck had turned at last