NaPoWriMo 2.14: Questions To The Huddersfield Broad Canal Fishing Lady

But is she among them…?

It’s a catch up day again – I’m finding that poetry gathering- and writing-binges are how I’m doing NaPoWriMo today…

So here’s the all-questions-and-a-statement poem which – without knowing about the imminent terza rima (which I’m doing next) – has a similar-ish interlocking rhyme structure.

The subject for my questioning poem is a lady we see fishing in the canal near where we’re moored. Fishing being largely dominated by white blokes, she stood out in being of East Asian descent (or East Asian, I know not) and not carrying all the kit (as many anglers do as they populate the towpath of a Sunday). So she stands out in that regard as an angler – and in her manner.

She sits looking quite mysterious and rather well-dressed, sort of glamorous. We’ve tried saying hello when we’ve gone past on the boat, but she seems then to slope away unsmilingly. Perhaps it’s interrupting her quiet thinking/fishing time, time to gaze at the water – which is, I think, the real/main reason for fishing as sport…

(As my Mum once pointed out, if you took a bag of kittens to the local river and started dunking them to the point of drowning, there’d be an outcry – but sticking a hook in a fish’s mouth and hauling it out of the water until it’s nearly dead is, apparently, entirely different).

So the Huddersfield Broad Canal Fishing Lady is something of a mystery – and here’s my poem of questions to her:


To The Huddersfield Broad Canal Fishing Lady


Why do you fish in the Broad Canal?

Is your little white handbag stuffed with worms?

Do you model for unseen cameras, so stern?

Have you always fished in the Broad Canal?


Does your handbag flash-bulb, when it is time?

What need of such style for a sport so banal?

What towpath could call to a runway girl?

Is your bag paparazzi at fishing time?


Are the hooks that you use made of thin air?

Do the fish fill your silence, are you always a mime?

Do they peep up like journos, from down in the grime?

Are your hooks in the water just bubbles of air?


Would you be heron, or would you be crane?

Do you speak with the others, know all the right terms?

Are your sequins scraped scales, whereon sunlight squirms?

I cast out enigma, I reel in the same: a feathered reflection, a vanishing crane.


Going Viral: The Edge of Life

Coronavirus – which probably doesn’t infect textiles, like the virus in my poem

I’ve been having a bit of a recovery period post-NaPoWriMo. Well, I did write 31 poems during April; so a little pause is not unreasonable…

Just spotted this story about the new and potentially-pandemical (it’s a word now), coronavirus. The name sounds quite pretty – like a crown, or the corona of the sun. But sadly its symptoms – possible respiratory and kidney failure – are far from pretty. Here’s hoping it does not become any more than the threat of a pandemic.

And while we wait to see if this lurgy heralds the apocalypse-proper: here’s a piece I wrote some time ago about a (possibly) more benign viral pandemic, the source of which is a fusty academic (hey – that rhymed)…


The Edge of Life


Though to others it seemed

he had been quarantined

for some years now

in his collegiate room,

his conjectural womb

and perma-furrowed brow:

something had been transmitted.


He noted it first

with the patches

he had fitted

to his elbows,

the latches

of the arms

to his seat;

the spine

turning pages

a day

at a week

at a year

at a time.


They relapsed

from leather

to tweed,

and then so

did his seat.

In one dark-bound tome

spreading up the walls

he sought acute definition,

(an unambiguous home

in his first edition)

for the current

and developing



It stated:

A virus

is an infectious agent

which replicates within a host,

composed of RNA or DNA,

a protein coat,

an organism

at the edge of life.


But not, it seemed now,

at the edge of fashion;

not an agent

in exclusive ration.

An organism

with ample hosts,

in trousers, shirts,

blouses and coats,

a coarse-woollen contagion

of replicant ghosts.


Although no-one could don

this material as he could

they unwittingly would

as the symptoms upon

their attire began.


No fabric was immune:

polyester perished,

silk succumbed,

denim died, and

cotton went to meet

its Tailor.


He saw the pandemic

progress across campus

and county and country

from his leather-patch window;

the edge of life,

the tattered hem,

the volume’s fraying sheets.