Poem by Milton P. Ehrlich


 

Murray Harbor North

Grazing Holsteins on the hillside chew their cud,
indifferent to the pandemonium on the wharf.
Lobster boats drift in stillness, reflected upside-down
in rippling waters of the bay.

Flashing red lights and ear-piercing sirens
announce the arrival of the Mounties.

Ospreys, fish-eating raptors, hover overhead,
hungry for a feed. Under swirling flocks of screeching gulls,
fishermen gather in clusters, puffing on Player’s, drinking Moosehead beer.

They scratch their heads in disbelief, wondering how could this happen?

They knew men were lost at sea almost every year,
snagged in ropes, hauling traps in six foot heavy swells,
tangled in antiquated winches, failing headgear, busted pulleys,
and wire cables whipping through the air. A sturdy seaman,
solid as an iron buoy, would hardly ever meet his Maker on the land.

With rum and beer for breakfast, barnacled-faced fishermen
are men against the sea. With no mind for life preservers
in this roiling province of blue-black waters, they mine
for lobsters, herring, cod and scallops.

Salt spray is in their bones, they choose to live no other way;

Leo Jamieson staggers off his boat, almost swamped with fish.
Through bleary eyes, he watches a crew unload the haul,
slurping down one scallop after another, until one gets stuck.

He gags in fright, his ruddy face blanching white,
gasping 5for air with lungs that once blew a sweet tin whistle
while others played on bodhran bones and spoons.

Village families line up at the wake in somber rows.
The local priest, young and handsome, still the picture
in his high school yearbook, reminds mourners :
God’s ways are not our ways.

Leo’s tunes are no longer heard.
Always garrulous and boisterous,
he now lies quiet as a stone.

 

Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D. is a 87 year old psychologist and a Korean War veteran who be has published many of his poems in periodicals such as the Toronto Quarterly, Wisconsin Review, Mobius, The Chiron Review, Descant, Arc Poetry Magazine, London Grip, Taj Mahal Review, Poetica Magazine, Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times.

Photographer Jennifer Matthews’ poetry has been published in Nepal by Pen Himalaya and locally by the Wilderness Retreat Writers Organization, Midway Journal, The Somerville Times, Ibbetson Street Press and Boston Girl Guide. Jennifer was nominated for a poetry award by the Cambridge Arts Council for her book of Poetry Fairy Tales and Misdemeanors. Her songs have been released nationally and internationally and her photography has been used as covers for a number of Ibbetson Street Press poetry books and has been exhibited at The Middle East Restaurant, 1369 Coffeehouses, Sound Bites Restaurant in Somerville and McLean Hospital.

 

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