Real Toads: Strange Fish

This is for Real Toads weekend challenge – a photo by Hedgewitch which she asks us to write to. I am also posting for Poets United Poetry Pantry. Toads: Poets United link:

Strange Fish
He jumped from the Putney bridge in the winter of 1890.
He drowned. Within a few days his body filled with gas
And rose to the top of the water,
Bumping and bobbing its way along,
caught in the current of the Thames.
It went through the city
past pastures, villages –
After a few days it was finally spotted
by a small child who ran to her mum.
Her mum ran to the local bailiff
Who in turn called out the able bodied men
who formed a line on the shore of the river
and dragged him ashore.
Not a pretty picture by this time.
They shook their heads over the
poor young lad come to no good
and wondered if he was pushed,
If he was drunk and fell in,
oa if it was suicide.
They decided on the lesser of the causes
And buried him an unknown drunk in the church yard.
If it had been suicide, he would not have been
buried in the church yard.
As a murder victim he would have to be investigated
by somebody or other.
They put a small stone on his grave
and the date they pulled him from the river.
The local stonemason carved
“The Lord giveth and taketh away”
In his pockets was a washed away picture,
a few shillings and pennies
and a sodden handkerchief
with the initials TLB embroidered upon it.

41 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. SAN_jeet
    Oct 07, 2017 @ 19:17:50

    Good word work


  2. purplepeninportland
    Oct 07, 2017 @ 20:23:09

    What a great story you imagined, Toni!


  3. Candy
    Oct 07, 2017 @ 22:20:52

    I love this story! You were truly inspired by this image.


  4. oldegg
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 01:45:05

    I think the river Thames has had its basinful of these. Whata beautifully descriptive poem you have written her; it was a great read.


  5. kim881
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 03:31:55

    I used to go across Putney Bridge a lot when I lived in Twickenham and worked in Fulham, Toni. Did you know that it’s the starting point for the boat race and that Mary Wollstonecraft allegedly once planned to commit suicide there.
    You’ve woven this Victorian melodrama with originality – that poor young man. I’ve been trying to work out who he could have been from the initials – who was TLB?


  6. Miranda
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 04:52:51

    Your narrative tells the untold story of the photograph. A sad end, but I’m sure not uncommon in the day.


    • kanzensakura
      Oct 08, 2017 @ 09:29:16

      No it wasn’t uncommon. In those days there were so many suicides the Thames River police had a special , ahem, suicide squad, that swept their part of the river for the bodies. Very sad.

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  7. Sanaa Rizvi (@rizvi_sanaa)
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 05:07:16

    My goodness this is good! You brought the picture to life!


  8. paul scribbles
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 05:55:02

    The initials on the hanky make me think of a tree carved heart with T L B in the middle…T loves B…..


    • kanzensakura
      Oct 08, 2017 @ 09:30:50

      I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe it meant T loves B and no longer did or had died and hence, the suicide.

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  9. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 14:17:03

    I love how you weaved the story… and the small blessing from a suicide to be buried a drunkard. To be blessed a bit…


  10. Sherry Blue Sky
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 15:07:58

    What a sad story, so well told. Last week, a young girl in her early 20’s jumped off a bridge in the city. So terribly sad.


  11. Myrna Rosa
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 15:45:31

    Great story you imagined. Enjoyed reading this sad tale.


  12. Isadora Gruye
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 15:50:37

    I like you how chose to tell a whole story from one image. Thanks so much for sharing!


  13. Susie Clevenger (@wingsobutterfly)
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 16:27:58

    A story with so many questions… I love things that engage imagination. I want to know who he was. Great write!


  14. Jamztoma
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 18:31:20

    Thank you my friend for this solemn tale of a poem. It’s sad to think that some of us maybe me (who knows) would die unknown. It breaks my heart to think about it. Have a great day and blessings.


  15. Beverly Crawford
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 19:21:36

    What a plaintive poem you created inspired by this photo. Well written. At least he had a modicum of kindness that allowed him to be buried in the church cemetery.


  16. Mary
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 20:36:21

    Your poem tells a riveting tale that sounds SO very realistic. This kind of death is really really sad.


  17. divalounger
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 21:28:57

    So many unanswered questions here. I love the way this unfolds.


  18. Sherry Marr
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 23:12:02

    Toni, i dont have your email on my tablet, will check my computer in the morning. Thank you for your wonderful comment on my poem. My grandma always told me the last thing the dying ask for is water, and it was true when she was dying. I am touched that my poem moved you. Thank you so much. I hope your eyes are doing well.


  19. Marja
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 23:17:59

    A sad story Very well expressed here


  20. thotpurge
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 23:26:32

    Love that you left the initials dangling at the end… building such intrigue…


  21. Namratha
    Oct 09, 2017 @ 03:23:03

    Details of the story are picturised so clearly through your poem. Exceptional


  22. annell4
    Oct 09, 2017 @ 10:51:26

    I read your response to Sherry, I am so sorry to hear of your Mom’s death. My Mom died in 2012, December 5. We did our best to give her a peaceful death, I miss her every day! I loved your tale, it seemed so real to me, and yes, sad to think he died alone, and no one knew him. There were no mourners at his death. I’m sure he was someone’s someone, yet they will never know.


    • kanzensakura
      Oct 09, 2017 @ 12:36:27

      Thank you Annell for your kind words. It is still so raw and new to me. I did all I could for her to give her a peaceful and happy life and death. I imagine the poor guy was at the end of his rope with just those few bits of money in his pocket. I imagine the curate at that small parish said a few words over his grave and usually, back in those days, a sense of decency and pity for the unknown lad. I like to think so.

      Sent from Mail for Windows 10


  23. Marian
    Oct 10, 2017 @ 06:22:08

    Easier all around to just write him off as a drunk. What a tale.


  24. Rosemary Nissen-Wade
    Oct 10, 2017 @ 07:16:58

    A story beautifully imagined and told.


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