Friday, 26 October 2012

Early memories

This is one of my early memories, when my Uncle took me fishing for the first time.

Was I four, or five, or six
when Uncle Bob first took me fishing?
down upon the tannery steps,
an alley off the market place
Damp dark morning, rain-drops hissing
on the river’s oily surface
black and swirling, gloomy, brooding
almost brutal, without grace.
I remember being frightened
by the unfamiliar sounds
How I wished that we were fishing
on the far bank’s open ground.
Barges moored there bump and jostle
Leviathans of black steel plate
With creaking voices they rub shoulders
grunting, groaning, misery-moaning
stretching chains that grind and grate.
There were high walls built of red-brick
reaching up on either side
four floors tall, the shops and factory
cave-like alley, eight feet wide
My fishing rod was three feet long
a little taller then than I.
made of stiff wire, wooden handled.
to me it reached right to the sky.
The reel was just a tiny bobbin,
with little bobble float and hook,
and if a fish had seen my maggot,
it wouldn’t take a second look.
I remember stench of leather
from the factory long since gone
just the thought will bring it back now
Ah! But sixty years have flown.
Kingston’s changed now
Gone the coal-yard, tannery, wood-yard
barges, cranes
and all the closed-in, dark, damp alleys
gone for ever, naught remains
Uncle Bob, (who was a postman)
last fished forty years ago
taken early by The Reaper,
heart attack, poor so-and-so.
And thus, it’s only in my memory
that this vignette still replays
unless I put the pen to paper
write about this, my first caper
Times of happy, scary days.

 © Rob King 2012


  1. You break the rhyme scheme very nicely in two places - it's actually only in those places that I realied there was a rhyme scheme. THis is a compliment! Two things stopped me. First, a boy of four would already be more than 3 feet tall. Second, a maggot would be too small to hook. Make the rod four feet tall, and turn the maggot into a wriggler, then submit this for publication at any mag that likes New Formalism. It's very strong.

    1. Hey, thanks for the critique, it was just what I wanted to hear!
      I struggled with a rhyme scheme with this one, so in the end, I just let it go where it wanted, and was pleased with the result.
      Re the height, I'll tell you I was an undernourished post-WW2 scrawny little rat in the UK, so I think my memory is fairly accurate, but yes, the rod may well have been 4 foot, and yes, maggots were the bait, right enough.
      I know nothing of New Formalism, but will research.
      Thanks again for your very encouraging words - I'm much obliged.

  2. I was Ok until it came to the maggot.....

    1. Jools, I could tell you an interesting story or three about maggots ;0)

  3. I was right there with you, Rob. And surely that is what it's all about. I was at one and the same time visualising Jim having taken the boys coarse fishing when we lived in Gosport, I can see them in their green cagoules and wellies. Wonderfully evocative, thank you.

    (I know nothing of New or indeed old Formalism, but I did enjoy the rhythms and cadences.)