Posted by: John Looker | 3 February, 2018

Raiding the Deep

Raiding the Deep


Let’s spin the globe, spin it towards the sun –
slowly now – we’re looking for a likely place,
a place where the sea or the ocean touch the land
and men have always put to sea in boats,
have moored their boats or dragged them on the shore
with heavy limbs after the homeward run.

Here will do,
here where the wild Atlantic batters the coast
and the heaving tide has carried a fragile fleet
up on to Portugal’s sand. The boats are beached
and the sardine catch laid out in boxes for the buyers,
and men with wide-brimmed metal hats
will carry the fish on their heads, salt water dripping,
up to the trucks and out of view.

Soon the men will hear how much they’ve earned.
A decent trip? Not bad.
The catch? So so.
Not as much as in the glory days
but the weather held, the fish were there, the gear behaved
and (although this isn’t said) they all returned.

Spin the world,
and find the trawlers active in early morning
off Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New England.
Spin it and in the darkness look for vessels
ranged around the Pacific ring of fish,
tuned to their weather warnings, studying sonar,
watching the stars in shoals expiring slowly
and the depths putting on new colour,
as the day – a day of promise –
is unfurled.


© John Looker 2015

This is taken from section 1 of my book The Human Hive (Bennison Books 2015, from Amazon, now at only cost price). The book looks at life through our experience of work, down the ages and round the globe.

I am posting new poems less frequently these days because I’m working slowly on a second book and meanwhile trying to place some of the contents in poetry journals here and there. So far new poems have been accepted for advance publication by Magma  (UK), Artemis (USA), Communion (Australia), The Wagon Magazine (India) and Poetry Breakfast (online). Others have appeared in the Austin International Poetry Festival’s 25th commemorative anthology  and the Indira’s Net anthology (UK)Wish me luck with others please!


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