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Soon - A Fisher Poem

In Alaska this time of year, it's pretty hard to not be thinking about fishing... So as all my fisher friends and family prepare to throw that first buoy, here's a little fisher poem to get the season going. Have any fisher poems you'd like to share? Please message me - I would love to hear yours!!


Crouched on the bow, Sleep crusting my eyelids half-shut,

I breathe in the stillness.

Ripples echo silently

Against the aluminum hull.

Mast lights twinkle with stars

In the pre-dawn sky.

The fleet sleeps.

Soon, the skipper will rev the engine.

The boat will lurch forward.

I’ll yank the lever

And the shrill squeak

Of the anchor winch

Will pierce my reverie

Like a flock of gossiping kittiwakes.

Chain will rattle, and my gloved hand

Will force each icy link

To its proper place.

Soon, I’ll switch on the RSW,

And its familiar whine will mix with

The aroma of perking coffee

And diesel.

I’ll scoop orange globs

Of powdered Gateraid

Into my water bottle,

While Ibuprofen numbs

My swollen and cracked hands.

The hour will strike

And the skipper will signal,

Undetectable but to me.

The buoy will fly

And the net will whirl behind it,

Out into the chop.

Sharp as Victorinoxes,

My eyes will send the message


To the hand manning the break

Almost before it even happens.

Someone will shout, “Jumper!”

And the laugh lines

Around the skipper’s eyes will crinkle

Like a little boy’s

On Christmas morning.

“Which side do you think

They’re hittin’ from?” he’ll ask,

And hook the net into the current

Whether I shrug my shoulders or not.

A school will light up the net:

Brilliant white and blue fireworks –

More exhilarating

Than any Fourth of July exhibition


I’ll unhook the gear.

Pow! Pow! Pow!

The plunger will echo,

Metallic against hard sea,

As wild and robust as my heartbeat.

Another hit, then another.

“They’re poppin’ like popcorn,”

The skipper will bellow.

And for a moment, I’ll feel invincible.

Soon, I will snap mesh from gills

With a practiced flip of my wrist.

And nimbly slide 5/8” web

Over sleek, fat salmon bellies,

Once, twice,

Three hundred times an hour.

I will lift a hatch cover

And guide thousands of pounds

Of bled reds

Into a hold of arctic sea water

With a gentle nudge of an Xtra Tuf.

My co-deckhand will pass

A steaming mug of burnt casserole

And I’ll scarf it one-handedly,

All the while leading the mast line

In a tedious dance

Over the power roller’s bunny ears,

Thinking –

For what must be the six-millionth time, “There’s got to be

A more efficient way…”

I’ll switch my tired, wet hoodie

For another salt-encrusted one

On the preface of having to pee.

The VHF will crackle

And all day, I’ll seasaw

Between genuine affection

For every Pete, Todd and Larry,

Who quell my boredom

With their stupid antidotes

And blatant boasting,

And red, hot rage

For the white torture

Of their monotonous drones,

So strong that, sometimes,

It takes every ouch of willpower

Not to rip that loudspeaker

Off its mount under the bridge

And hurl it unapologetically into the swell.

Soon, we’ll loose the race

Against the clock

And end up round hauling

The last two shackles,

Stress dripping from our brows

To the beat of the second hand.

On the run to the tender,

We’ll pick and restack

And when we’re done,

I'll scrub the galley floor,

Scrapping scales

Off the silverware drawer

With a maxed-out credit card,

Not even bothering t

To wonder at the irony

Of the silverware drawer

Being cleaner than me.

Soon, I’ll rip the lassoing tie-up line

Out of the sky.

The boat will ease alongside the tender

And I’ll meld the stiff yellow fibers

Around the cleat like butter.

We’ll hook and unhook brailers

In rapid succession,

Fingers spinning above our heads,

A signal to the crane operator

As we hop out of the way,

Surprisingly nimble with three layers

Of fleece under our Grundens.

Soon, we’ll pull away from that tender,

And hose in hand,

I’ll shimmy across the deck

Belting Tenacious D

While my co-deckhand dips brailers

In between fits of girlish giggles.

Then, we’ll bicker pettily

Over which flavor of ice cream

To buy from the fuel barge.

Sunbeams the color of salmon

Will drip slowly below the horizon.

The crew will huddle around

A dog-eared Captain Jack

At the galley table,

Sipping grog from chipped mugs

As the boat maneuvers into the slough.

And I’ll meander back up there,

Ready to set the anchor.

But for now, it’s just me.

Standing on the bow.

In the stillness.

And there’s no other bliss Quite like it.

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