Caught by the River

Mike’s Tackle Shop: The Ultimate Fishing Experience

6th July 2023

A poem by Michael Pedersen.

I don’t want to bash a trout in with a mallet
but I do eat them, so have done.
Contrarily, I relished my boyhood
fishing trips: the symphonic purr
of loch lap & naked talk.

This lament’s, instead, for feeding the beast
—the machismo rigmarole
of school lunchtimes eked out
in Mike’s Tackle Shop
sculpting a huntsman’s facade
that might see a twelve-year-old
gatekeeper open the lock
on a jaunt away. To earn the invite
took fidelity: trawling shelves
& a feigned affection for the aggrandised
tales of young burnouts—gory
clobberings, spittle-riddled.

Beyond their gloat/this rite of passage
lay a lullaby of arcadian elegance—
where rods bow down
for plates of glass
as sun-shafts shred
to infinite flecks. Bog fairies & air
bubbling from another realm.

Ensnared by ritual, whilst ardent
as the light-lusty moth,
I found enough to heat me.
From the shopfront signage of Shakespeare
since 1897 to the protest pong
of the doomed ragworm.

Of the flies, I spied their joyous plumage,
flamboyant haircuts, flourish
of glitter, tail & tassel, some
like fireworks, exotic birds like
tapestries, with such names:
the Golden Monarch, Wullie Gun,
Fallen Star, Lang Syne.

When the future revealed itself
in the hook-punctured face of a dead
pike—its punk lip & glam pout,
mad eyes both fire & coal—
I quarrelled myself invisible
& squeaked: why is everybody
hiding from the softness?


Extracted from ‘The Cat Prince & Other Poems’, published today by Corsair. Buy a copy here (£12.34).