Ode to a Fisherman’s Friend

by Christopher Arksey

Here’s to you my little mucus-mover, 
green-brown Black Jack, 
paper-packed sucking stone. 

My washed-up relic, breath of fresh patina, 
bit of grit with skin as rough 
as a trawlerman’s backhand. Not a whiff 

of wellbeing about you. Until 
your liquorice turns menthol; enough 
to flare the nostrils. 

Till you’re tongue-smoothed, 
suck-sharpened, lashed and brined 
and swallowed in the fish sauce of saliva. 

Till we meet again 
when my nose blows foghorn 
and my throat hawks phlegm. 

Note: Fisherman’s Friend is a brand of strong menthol lozenges originally developed in 1865 in Fleetwood, a small coastal town in northwest England, to give respiratory relief to deep-sea fishermen. According to the brand, the fishermen began to refer to the lozenges as “friends.” 

Black Jack is a brand of aniseed flavour sweets made in the UK. 


Christopher Arksey is a writer and voice actor living in Hull, UK. His work is also published in Full House Literary Magazine, forthcoming in Sledgehammer Lit and Porridge Magazine, and he’s currently writing his first poetry pamphlet. You can find him on Twitter @chrisarksey.