David Mercer: Chasing his thoughts
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