The Fisherman

In fading, early evening light,

On peaceful ocean, half afloat,

As sinking sun gives way to night,

Drifts a lonely, little boat.


Forty miles at least, from shore,

Motor broken, without sail,

Against the slowly flooding floor,

A young man works his fishing pail.


With all human contact lost,

Any chance of rescue slim,

His sorry soul now counts the cost,

Of wasted life whose future’s dim.


Many nights spent chasing women,

Many weekends drowned in booze,

Endless hours of television,

Nothing much of any use.


Little time for any other,

 Loving parents he ignored,

Days were quick to fill with clutter,

Had a son he rarely saw.


And all for what? He could not say,

Meaning there he cannot find,

A thousand chances washed away,

Lost forever, sunk in time.


Now, it seems, he’s early met,

By sudden, unexpected fate,

No hope of stay, for surely death,

Like time and tide, for no man waits.


Like every soul in desperate straits,

He pleads for mercy from his God,

Makes a promise, swears he’ll change,

He’s going sober from now on.


His tears are bitter, flowing free,

What he’d give for one more chance,

If God would save him, he would see,

He truly is a different man.


But God to no man is obliged,

None demands a guarantee,

Each one answers for his life,

And what I’ve done remains on me.


The failure of his dreams unmet,

Young man’s thoughts of shame are rife,

The deepest and the worst regret,

Is not for death but wasted life.


Hours pass in silent sorrow,

Rising water fills his craft,

Will he live to see tomorrow?

Is this sombre night his last?


We can underestimate,

Consider prayer a childish hope,

Yet as the young man grimly waits,

Salvation does above approach.


Gentle sound on breeze arising,

Does it herald coming squall?

Lifting eyes to far horizon,

He sees a hope there after all.


The sound is of a rescue flight,

Searchlight scanning open seas,

Just a speck in vast, black skies,

He fires a flare for it to see.


The signal works, his boat is spotted,

The chopper brings him back to shore,

And there how quickly is forgotten,

Repentance he so solemn swore.


Hearts are apt to quit what’s holy,

When on dry land the feet reside,

He takes it all as fortune only,

He cannot see the hand divine.


Safe and sound now, he resumes,

The same old empty life he lived,

 And so that night at sea endured,

Becomes another wasted gift.



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