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16 October 2014
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David Smylie
David Smylie

David Smylie, Belfast, Father, teacher and poet. David has been writing and performing poetry for the past four years and is a member of David’s poems have been published in the Sunday Tribune, The Lonely Poets Guide to Belfast and the Ringing the Changes Anthology. One poem appears on a glass mural that was commissioned by the Community Arts forum. His poem "Last post" is on a CD recorded at the NTL studio at the Waterfront Hall.

Yahoos by David Smylie

Hay stubble dug into bare feet as we crossed the prairie in search of game
Backsides slapped in a frenzy of whooping to make the khaki shorted steeds move faster.
Fishing rods and worms in a jam jar
Held fast by string.
The logistics of the day.
I once swallowed a fly in full gallop.
Deftly dodging the cow pats
Pulled up short of the reeds
Trod softly down to the riverbank.
Lead strips bent repeatedly,
Broken and clamped to the nylon line by milk teeth.
Worms from the dung heap.
Or sometimes a fat white grub gleaned from the base of a dock.
Threaded reluctantly onto the hook.
Then cast expertly.
Once we stood transfixed as a bright red Cadillac stopped
Cool boxes, real weights and floats,
We looked on in bewilderment as they returned what they had caught into the dark waters of the Quoile.
On wet days we sat under a canvas sheet, watched and listened as the torpid surface of the river became alive with the rise of a million leaping fry.
Midges feasted on our legs and necks.
Cut knees; nettle stings, brown bodies.
We dreamed of the big one.
Or a pike!
Eels writhed long after they had been decapitated on a shale altar
Our sacrifice to the gods.
Then pinned to a tree for the herons
Or as a warning to other tribes.
This was our hunting ground.
Tea leaves in a tin can filled with river water
Suspended over a fire
Smoke in our eyes, ash in our hair.
We poked embers, waved twigs aflame.
When caught.
Silver brown speckled trout poached in the same water from which they came.
Then devoured by city children, feral until darkness fell.
Once a water rat was cornered and stoned to death.
With the telling
It became a mystical creature
With yellow fangs
Slain by the warrior clan.

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More from this writer:

Will You
The Ghost of Presents Past
Easter at Ballintoy

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