, Gloucester, MA

March 2, 2013

My View: 'Gloucester change' poetry winners

My View
John Ronan

---- — The “Gloucester Change” poetry contest, which ran last fall, saw a flood of talented entries about the decline of fishing and the physical presence of Gloucester. It was difficult to separate the poems and their variety of attitude, attention, and heartfelt concern.

There were too many to name here, but honorable mentions must go to: Bob Alves, Bill Chapin, Virginia Lee Doane, Sam “I Am” Nicastro, Timothy Muise, and Bob Quinn.

The three winners were:

First Place, Captain James F. Parisi for “A Dying Industry.”

Second Place, Hilary Frye for “The Fort.”

Third Place, Pete Willwerth, for “Ile de Beau Port.”

Their poems appear below and the poets will read and discuss their work on The Writer’s Block March 7 and March 14, Channel 12, Cape Ann TV. Here are the winning entries:

A Dying Industry

I was born in Gloucester, February 12 of 1944.

As a kid growing up, the fishing industry was booming in this town.

Now as I walk the docks it makes me sad

There are hardly any boats around.

Gloucester has changed and sometimes I am in tears.

You see – I was a fisherman out of Gloucester

For thirty-three years.

The fishing industry is just about gone.

There are just a few fishermen left,

And I don’t think there will be many more born.

That’s the biggest change I notice in this city.

All I can say as a fisherman is

“What a pity.”

The Fort

Tear the Madame down!

She will not fall!

The whore is raped.

Poor honest innocent

Vessels stand aghast

At her docks.

They go out.

They go in

Snuggling at her breathing corpse

As the jackhammes do their work

As the backhoes dig and tear

Shrieking steel

Moaning mortar

As the harlot bleeds

Sunrises and sunsets

East to West

Her bewildered children

Suckle at her morbid flanks

It will be over soon.


I died and was left to the sea by Champlain’s ship

And have lain ever since off Ten Pound Island

My ribs cooled and soothed by the tides

Tickled and cleaned by great schools of Atlantis’ bounty

For hundred of years the groaning of the wooden fleet


Brought me comfort and repose in my garden.

Now comes the grating cavitation of the fleet of modernity

The rapacious slaughter of my beautiful swarms

The anopheles roar of craft fueled by fossils buried eons before

was I

That give fugitive pleasure to those above.

The sustaining soup of brine and infinitesimal life that

nourished my multitudes

Now a gruel of carbon, plastic, antibiotics, coffee, chlorine.

I have a fever that brings on grim dreams and fantasies

Of the end of the great wash.

Let me sleep in peace, I petition – Revere my grave.

John Ronan is a former poet laureate for the city of Gloucester and is host of “The Writer’s Block” on Cape Ann TV.

High school poets thriving Wes Dunn, a Poetry Scholarship winner from last year's Gloucester High School senior class, is prospering at the University of Vermont. Wes is studying agriculture and continuing to write. This re-enforces the GHS reputation for good teaching and solid graduates. Beside Wes, of course, there are thousands of other GHS success stories. Two come immediately to mind. My niece, Jessica Bryan, a 1987 graduate, is now a senior associate photo editor at People Magazine; in a more recent example, Gilbert Brown, 2011, is thriving in the classroom and on the gridiron at Bates College.