David Mercer: Chas­ing his thoughts

The Compass - - SPORTS -

David Mercer was born in Toronto, but has lived in or around Bay Roberts all his life, with the ex­cep­tion of the 17 sum­mers he spent fish­ing down on the Labrador. He is cur­rently tak­ing the time to chase his thoughts, ac­cord­ing to the ti­tle of his book of po­etry.

“I want to say to the po­ten­tial reader that I do not pre­sume to call my­self a poet,” he says in a self-dep­re­cat­ing man­ner, “an as­sess­ment some will un­doubt­edly af­firm af­ter wal­low­ing through my scrib­bles. How­ever,” he adds, “I do some­times at­tempt to por­tray my thoughts on pa­per.” He ad­mits his dis­in­cli­na­tion to pre­scribe his rhymes for those “who seek the hid­den an­swers. / You who yearn / To be so wise.” But if they suc­ceed in spawn­ing “a chuckle / Or per­haps a trickle from the eye, / The words must then be counted wor­thy.”

David’s rhymes evoke the

po­etry of an­other Bay Roberts man, R.A. Par­sons (1893-1981), who writes elo­quently in “An­cor­age”: “Ships all have need of ports or havens where, / They may take shel­ter and in calm re­pair / Storm dam­age and that harm from wear and tear, / They con­stant suf­fer, in their

hulls and gear.”

His thoughts range across a broad spec­trum, be­gin­ning with “Heart of a Gypsy” and end­ing with “A Way­ward Wind.” Be­tween the two is an as­sort­ment of “pic­tures of some of the places those thoughts have wan­dered over the past few years.”

He writes about “The Drunk­ard,” who stum­bles into an up­stand­ing church, “Look­ing for a place to squat.” Spurned by “all the Lord’s elect,” he pro­ceeds to the al­tar, where he finds “an empty place.” He’s “thank­ful now to have a spot / To drop his wea­ried feet.” He has, at last, “found the rest he’d sought.”

He ex­tols “The Light­house,” built over a six-month pe­riod “on the point ’ longside the break­ers,” a ver­i­ta­ble “guid­ing light to steer the chan­nel through.” The struc­ture stands as “a bea­con bright for sea­men, / Head­ing in the shore or out the bay, / By no means stately when com­pared to many, / Yet help­ing many a sailor find his way.”

David’s rhymes evoke the po­etry of an­other Bay Roberts man, R.A. Par­sons (1893-1981), who writes elo­quently in “An­cor­age”: “Ships all have need of ports or havens where, / They may take shel­ter and in calm re­pair / Storm dam­age and that harm from wear and tear, / They con­stant suf­fer, in their hulls and gear.”

“I think most of us feel some de­gree of need to ex­press our­selves,” David says, “to let who­ever may be in­ter­ested know who we re­ally are, what we think about, and what we con­sider to be im­por­tant. Many peo­ple can do that through ver­bal in­ter­ac­tions with oth­ers.... If I am go­ing to com­mu­ni­cate any­thing of value, it will likely not be de­liv­ered via my mouth. Po­etry is just the way I am ca­pa­ble of say­ing the things I want to say.”

Bar­bara Cros­bie sees David “catch­ing and cap­tur­ing ( his thoughts) into verses in my brother’s own dis­tinc­tive style. Ev­ery se­lec­tion is sure to in­trigue your mind and chal­lenge your way of think­ing.”

Check out David’s “Count­ing Bless­ings,” “The Gold,” “Down On the Labrador,” “Empty Plates,” “St. Peter’s Lament,” “Lonely Sea,” “No Quit­tin’,” “The Chair” and “Hik­ing Up the Moun­tain.” There are many oth­ers.

One of my favourites is “Man’s Best Friend.” David will gladly swap “fame and for­tune” for a dog. “Lord,” he prays, “grant I ask what mat­ters most / And let me have a dog.” If heaven is to be his abode af­ter his “frame is worn to dust,” the “sweet shin­ing sands of Beu­lah Land / Would be to me as bog, / When strolling on those bliss­ful shores / If I can’t have a dog.” Dog lovers every­where know whereof he speaks.

“I think I would be un­able to keep my in­ter­est fo­cused on writ­ing any­thing longer than a poem,” David ad­mits. “Po­etry al­lows me to deal with many top­ics, but not long enough to get bogged down in them. It gives me the freedom to write about some­thing one day, and some­thing to­tally dif­fer­ent the next.” He also likes “how the easy flow of the words in po­etry has the abil­ity to ex­press feel­ing maybe a lit­tle more than non-po­etic writ­ing.”

Many peo­ple know David as “The Wood­worker.” He ex­plains: “Back in the early ’nineties, the style of wood­work I was do­ing got me on to the craft fair cir­cuit. For the fol­low­ing 12 to 15 years, I did many fairs and trade shows in eastern New­found­land.” Not un­like other crafters, he “be­came known by those who at­tended th­ese fairs and who liked my wood­work.” Dur­ing those years, he also ran The Wood­worker gift-store in Clarke’s Beach.

A word­smith at heart, he writes about “A world full of words, / To whis­per and shout, / Some soon for­got­ten, some l i nger abo u t , / Streamin’ into our ears, / Spewin’ out of our mouths.” Bur­ton K. Janes lives in Bay Roberts. His col­umn ap­pears in The Com­pass ev­ery week. He can be reached at

bur­tonj@nfld.net

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