Gone Fishin'

Far outside the marina, fishing
for sea trout, I keep
one eye on my faltering bay boat’s engine,
the other
on the approaching fog bank.
Cobweb appendages
reach for me.

My companions, a dozen
Guinness beer cans, clatter and roll
empty, rejected
along the boat’s bottom.
Do I care?
I still have a 12-pack in my cooler.

Today, fishing for sea trout
is a bust;
might as well head in.
The engine sputters once, twice . . . 
stalls.  Like a “true” mechanic
I scratch my head.

The fog’s ghostly fingers probe,
then creep over the gunnels. 
The dense fog bank
carries within it
the echoing silence
of drowned men.

A grinning skull surfaces
from beneath calm waters—
white-boned with empty sockets
where once eyes
had been, but long ago
devoured by fish
and crab. 
It’s crowned with a cap
that bears a swastika insignia.

Now I remember—
the estuary had been visited
by German submarines
during a long-ago war.
Lost to history,
this one had been sunk,

A skeletal torso rises, fleshless
arms with bony fingers
grasp for the gunwale.
Too much beer,
I tell myself, blinking my eyes,
but the specter
heaves itself aboard—
at attention before me. 

Courteously, he salutes:
“Guten Tag mein Herr,
is Chesapeake far from hier?
Ich bin thirsty; I want ein beer. . .
then torpedo
your boot.” 

Nonchalantly I point at my deck shoes,
“See? no ‘boot,’”
but then say, Oh, what the hell! and hand him
a brew. . . . 
Thinking of old sea stories, souls
of men lost at sea—
once more I try to restart
the engine. “Drunken fool,”
says the specter in English,
sounding a bit like me,
and points at the fuel reserve tank. 
(May have been me. Duhh!!)

I switch over to reserve--
The engine catches at once.
Leaving my phantom to the fog,
I glide toward the bustling marina. 
I don’t know what I saw—I just don’t know,
but I know for certain:
‘Guinness Dark’ is more than I can handle.

© 2016 Jerry Kemp

Jerry Kemp

Jerry has written and published two books: A Bouquet of Poetic Thoughts II and Galloping Pegasus, four humorous novellas.  Retired from his horse ranch and other activities, Jerry lives with his wife, two dogs, two cats, and numerous birds at the outskirts of the Sonoran desert in Arizona.  Celebrating his 82nd birthday in October 2016, ignoring the onset of Parkinson’s symptoms, Jerry continues on in his pursuit of happiness. He still paints, enjoys classical music and poetry by the old masters and, of course--writing.