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The Fisherman Of Mordialloc Creek

Old Charlie liked his fishing near as much
As quaffing beer and swapping yarns and such
And telling tales of fish that got away
And fish that he will catch some other day.

In vain he'd tried to catch the king of schnapper,
The biggest and the best, a true blue scrapper;
Presenting hypothetic angled catch
To mates - if thought and deed could match.

A little boat of blue, his pride and joy
In Mordi Creek quite near the hoi polloi
Has roomy prow for storing booze and food;
Against the stern rests outboard motor rude.

In spring, one morning early, mist lies thick
In sombre oily seas all grey and slick,
Our Charlie clutches beer and fishing tackle
Against his ample paunch, while seagulls cackle.

He steers in silence from creek to ocean,
The motor mutters muffled commotion,
There's naught to see excepting hull and gull,
Flat water, grey mist, blue boat and sea dull.

The vessel sails over Port Phillip Bay
'til Captain Charlie stops the motor's neigh
And drops the anchor, he will settle down
To fish for reputation's high renown.

A microcosm: Charlie, boat and gull
All set in leaden seas, a peaceful lull;
The fog's closed in and deadens sight and sound,
The empty beer cans hardly move around.

The sea's a mirror netting cold reflections
Revealing disaffected imperfections
Of angler, albatross and aging vessel,
Whilst bird and empty cans in waters nestle.

A sound, a closet noise, a gulping slurp,
A ripple where the gull had sat - a burp.
Surprised, he cracks a can, a penny spent,
The milky sea and Chas do not lament.

And something bumps the hull, the changing tide?
Mysterious shadows move along the side,
His bladder weakens, now his tummy rumbles:
A swallowed gull results in mindless fumbles.

His rod convulses, bucking through the rail,
He sweats from cheek and brow both plump and pale,
With trembling hands he seeks another beer,
He disbelieves his eyes, its very queer.

He sees a contemplating fish capacious,
Tired tackle, torn, adorns its jaws voracious;
It fancies Chas, he looks into it eyes,
Cold-blooded and soulless, ancient and wise.

Old orbs apart by three foot six and tiny,
They stare, dead still, from out the briny
Unwinking, unthinking - Chas feels transfixed,
He wets his pants and prays, his feelings mixed.

By being present the cranium suggested
An inherent right to Chas ingested,
A malignant yet emotionless look -
And dangling from its mouth is Charlie's hook.

The head is massive, pewter-smooth and flat,
A barnacle bedecked aristocrat
And Charles, incontinent, batting eyelid,
Now faced primordial matter, grog forbid.

****

No sign of Chas only his wooden boat,
No fishing rod, no fish, no bait afloat,
A dead seagull, white and bloody, drifts abaft,
Empty cans of beer encircle Charlie's craft,

Old Chas will never catch that schnapper now,
It must have been a heart attack, and how,
Perhaps brought on by all the beer he drank
While fishing in the early morning dank.

We beached the boat without our mate's consent,
And turned it upside down, no ill intent,
Inspecting it, two rows of deep scratching
Were found, like jaws, four feet wide and matching.

****

Old Charlie liked his fishing near as much
As quaffing beer and swapping yarns and such
And telling tales of fish that got away
And fish that he will catch some other day.
He never told his final fishing tale:
Of fish that fancied fishermen in ale.

Copyright; Fred Curtis

 

 



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