Awash, the fish stalls sluice their glistening cull,
And Pisces in the bookstalls leaps from trawls and boulters —
Mongers of the sensory with the measure of poulter’s;
Oysters on the half shell, eyes on the skull.
Hooks adulterate all grades from grand to paltry;
Hookers, adulteresses in the land of adventurers
Are caught and released from seines and halters;
Their halting speech insane tastes sweeter and saltier;
Their tomes adrift have sifted through the centuries.
Whatever’s bloodied by some weighted fragment —
What’s written and read — is never released,
But hauled along the ocean’s tang and tangent,
Is fresh forever as the flesh is feast.
NOTES for Students of English
Boulter – (Rhymes with “molter”) A long fishing line to which many hooks are attached.
The Measure of Poulter’s – Poulter’s measure is a form of verse with alternating lines of 12 and 14 syllables. It was popular in the 16th century and derives its name from the fact that an egg-seller, a “poulter,” would give two extra eggs to the buyer of a dozen. “Poulter” is an obsolete form of “poulterer,” a dealer in poultry.
Seine – (Pronounced like “sane”) A large net with sinkers on one edge and floats on the other, used vertically to enclose fish when its ends are brought together or drawn ashore.