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THE CURSED OLD MAN: by Oppong Clifford Benjamin

It was eighty four days without fish
The old man had always made a wish
to catch even a catfish and make a dish
But the sea had cursed him
and the apparent wind made swish
The sun died in his boat that night
and he murmured a song to his delight
He had returned from another empty day
Sat on his skiff and ate sardines of yesterday

The old man was gaunt with wrinkles in his neck
The scars on his hand were fresh yet old to check
Everything about him was old except his hopeful heart
He liked American football and he followed the chart
Santiago,the boy, said while they climbed the bank of the sea
Maybe I should get some sardines and a hot cup of tea
As they sat on the terrace,they discussed the boy’s departure
I know you did not leave because you doubted
Am a boy and got to obey when Dad flaunted
You are with a lucky boat now and make a catch daily
Make some money and come every evening to drink gaily

Eighty five was a lucky number and this must be the day
“Today I await my destiny” and the old man pray-ed
The boy bid him good bye and wished him well
He sailed deep into the ocean and whistled along
And soon he was all alone with old eyes to watch
He followed the ineffectual movement of fish birds
The school had left him and they were moving farther
Maybe I must cast somewhere here
Maybe somewhere my big fish is here
If others heard me talking aloud,they may think crazy
But since no one is near and I am not crazy,I don’t care
The old man cast his net and sailed steadily around the region
Two sea birds had settled on his skiff and waggled their tails
They sung of summer and sweet soaked smiles and the struggle
The Old man was old enough to appreciate and thanked the birds
He thought of sleeping but that would be dangerous,he said

It was dark and the old man still sailed
It had become true that he wasn’t going without a fish
He felt his rope becoming heavy and he smiled
The old man wept, he wept of many days without a fish
He became wide awake and hoped for glory at last
The fish was big,he thought….this fish can buy the shore
I hope no one has been worried,the boy am sure will have confidence
The fish is a calm one or he just aware of who has caught him
Now the boy’s father won’t insult him as well as the younger fishermen
This fish won’t kill me,I fight till I die,he thought
He leaned against his stern and he knew he was not dead
He spat into the ocean and said, eat that big fish
The wind was blowing harder and the pungent smell of flesh
Let this wind blow us to the shore quietly,be gentle as you have been
For I have no strength in these bones to carry you,the old man said aloud
As the old approached the shore,he was close to death
He ahoy,but there was no man to meet him, not even the boy
Have they gone looking for me or they are drinking a beer,he wondered
The old man reached where he could see the fish and pulled it up
Alas,the boy lied in the net, he had fished the boy’s corpse
For eighty five days without fish but dead body of dear boy
The Old man stopped fishing and wept the rest of his life
Such is the destiny of a cursed old man

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Author: Oppong Clifford Benjamin

  • i loved the first stanza, but after that i lost what was following

    • You would appreciate it better if you could give it a second shot..

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