Poem of the North

Fifty years of the Northern Poetry Library

From Canto 5

Skinningrove: No Country for Young Men

Local lads lounging around boats strewn
haphazard in front of homes, like stolen cars.
Work comes and goes: ironstone hacked in tons,
then steel, kept the world turning, until, here,
it stopped.  But you are young and think you own
the sea.  The mackerel crowd beckons, and at night,
lobsters wave their claws, surrender to your pots.
How sudden, the summer squall, and you are lost,

hair streaming in the greedy waves, too far
from shore, the village glimpsed a final time

your life as short and vivid as a leaping fish.

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