Men of the Sea


Sit back me hearties, listen to me

.           I’ve a tale of bravery and honor, a tale of the sea.

Four rugged venturers I’ll place in your ken.

To your children and their children you’ll talk of these men.

 Two from MD and two from PA,

 together they came to challenge the ocean that day.

‘Twas early spring on the ‘peake, magnificent bay –

 the mouth of the Severn, shadow of the USNA.

Not those plebes nor their goat could foresee or foretell

 the momentous blood struggle ‘twould take place on that swell.

 Striped bass were running and, for the first day, were legal to fell,

 hundreds were there to pit strength and courage against these rockfish from hell.

There was Bruce the builder, mighty of strength and spirit,

 could raise an eight bedroom palace in a single day – I swear it!

 Then came Keith, mechanical genius supreme,

 could keep us afloat and running, man’s mastery over machine.

 I was along for the times and the ride – I’m no sea dog,

 but I could make a mighty contribution to the quest, I carried the grog.

 Comes our leader, Old Joe, a wizened, tested vet,

 with Old Joe along we’d take all of the devils we could get.

 Finally, fair Judy,

 Bruce’s bride is a beauty.

 At Joe’s behest she’d man (or woman) the helm and keep the log,

 she had best vision and memory for only she would eschew the grog.

When we left port, we turned the radio loud –

 the other crusaders made a frenzied crowd.

 As boats separated from shore excitement gave way to fears,

 to help face the devil they turned to me, “gimme one o’ them beers!”

 We baited our hooks, our lines were set,

 Judy turned hard, I went over – came up shamefaced and wet.

 I was dragged back aboard afore the evil monsters could get me,

 Old Joe had the grog, I moaned, “Joe, hit me.”

As the radio buzzed, we could hear the desperation.

  “Did you get anything yet?”  “No, you?” Oh, the frustration!

 Other brave souls, as valiant and passionate as we,

 were being rused and deluded by the wretched demons of the sea.

 “Got anything yet?”  “No, we just can’t find ’em.”

  Again and again the pernicious, deep spells worked to blind ‘em.

But we had Joe, true man of valor.

  None on that bay was such a sailor

Round we went in circles ever wider.

 We could feel the quarry mocking and becoming ever snider.

 From the academy at the Severn’s mouth,

 out into that great “Peake and then to the South,

 Old Joe bade fair Judy,

 wider next time shall be your duty.

Then just as all became fear, panic and desperation,

 my line twitched, I couldn’t move – immobilized in hesitation.

 It moved again – this time a jump and a jog!

 I was so excited, I nearly spilled my grog.

 Old Joe yelled over, “Grab the pole, you twit.”

 When my legs failed me, he grabbed hold of it.

 He pulled and tugged till I gained my composure

 then he gave me the rig so I could be in on the closure.

 I reeled and pulled and the great fish was set.

 When he broke the surface, Bruce ensnared him in the net. 

When he lay on the deck, we all bent two look.

 Keith sneered and grunted, “He’s only two foot.”

 Since the rules of this sea required footage of three,

we had to return him to the deep regardless of how evil he be.

 I took him off the line and toward the side I did tote ‘im

 but the hook swung back and lodged in my (Modesty requires that I not name this part.  Sufficient to say that the word rhymes with “totem”).

 I removed the hook from the delicate spot,

but on my white shorts there appeared an ever broadening red dot.

I longed to examine and soothe my injury so tender.

I turned to fair Judy, but alas, she’s the wrong gender.

Round in the wide circles we continued to travel

and the insufferability of our foes began to unravel.

Under the tutelage of Old Joe’s savvy and wiles,

we pulled scores of our prey and beat the others by miles.

 After admonishing the extras to mend their ways,

We recommitted them to the deep and kept only the largest of the day.

Joe had pointed, Judy had steered and Bruce, Keith and I grogged,

and triumph over evil and the best catch of the day we had logged.

 During the return I was wounded and ill and my countenance was pasty.

But, after a rest and a soothing balm, that devil rockfish sure was tasty.

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Steve Alm