Voices of the Tongass - Fishing Village Blues

Happy Halloween! This week Berett Wilber's poem, Fishing Village Blues, takes us down to the docks and into the Pioneer Bar. To hear Berett read her poem, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Photo by Berett Wilber

fishing village blues

pictures of shipwrecks cover all of the available spaces on the walls of the Pioneer Bar, the last haven in America where it is it legal to smoke inside. the old-time skippers sip whiskey in slow motion, while the deckhands drink their piny beers in the vinyl booths.

surrounded by the misfortunes of the fleet - two-ton diesel fires, stainless steel bottoms scraping barnacles, caught at low tide with their hulls on the rocks like drunk and dangerous bridesmaids. one more pair of salted hands puts crumpled dollars bills on the bar like a grizzled miner with a poke of gold and Is This Love seeps from the jukebox. this is the small-town time-machine: Bob will never die. Disco will never live.

after a few hours, the deckhands will leave the bar, duck their heads to clouds of orange and blue that the rain makes with the streetlamps, their rubber boots heavy on the wood down the dock. their sleeping bags, waiting up in the caves of fo'c'sles all over town, will wrap the boys' shoulders in downy embraces. the boats in their moorings will lull their beer-sweet breath even and their mouths slack, the dock snoring gently from the the slow pull of so many ropes.


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