Prize-winning stories and poems – 3

Today’s poem, The Fisherman’s Tale, is inspired by Devon and the local fishermen who risk life and limb to bring food to the tables of the south-west community.  It reminds us of the dangerous job they do, and how we should appreciate them because of it. For a full list of my poetry and fiction and the prizes, commendations etc. they’ve won, please visit

The Fisherman’s Tale

‘Don’t take the boat out, Ned my love,

don’t go out to the sea today.

By the Devil below and the Lord above

look to the looming sky and stay’.


A solitary woman, alone on the shore,

hearing the whispering storm approaching

remembers her father’s words once more

as he gave her a careful weather coaching.


‘Shall I stop by the hearth, my precious Jane,

toasting my toes, in a doze and a glow,

and relax as my family starves in pain,

because my coward’s bones won’t go?’


‘Yes, Ned, our children must be bred and fed

to grow ever stronger on a bounty of sea

but that cannot happen when their father is dead

and they’re facing a future never to be’.


She hears the crew bellow, the door latch go,

and the stone crunching boots plodding away.

‘Father’s gone’; a child’s voice, soft and low;

in the yard, she tries to make herself pray.


‘The next wave will do for us, my precious one,

our broken bones are for Davy Jones’ sleep;

your husband was wrong, and now he is gone,

just another dark skeleton feeding the deep’.


By the wharf, she watches the bodies arrive

their scant nakedness tarpaulin-covered

and a five-strong forsaken family alive

that now must somehow still be mothered.


‘Don’t take the boat out, Ned, my love,

don’t risk your precious life today,

by the Devil below and the Lord above

look to the looming sky and stay’.