Poetry by Jack May

  • Downhome Magazine
  • Posted: Jan 30, 2009 11:38 AM
Long Point Lighthouse in Twillingate, Newfoundland

The following poems were written by Jack May for Downhome magazine many years ago. Jack was once the lightkeeper at Long Point Lighthouse in Twillingate, Newfoundland.

The Long Point Light
Way back in 1876
The first keeper came to stay
At the lighthouse known as Long Point
In Twillingate, Notre Dame Bay

He brought his family with him
To this lonely, rocky place
'Cause there was lots of things to do
And the elements to face

They kept the main light burning bright
So those in ships could see,
To navigate in darkest night
Upon the stormy sea

As time went by it came to pass
The station changed they say
Now a fog horn with a mighty blast
Was heard throughout the bay

Long Point got busier day by day
More staff, more dwellings built
The wives and families came to stay
And made their presence felt

Now keepers watched around the clock
Horns ready, light aglow
To keep the ships clear of the rocks
And warn sealers on ice floes

Then radios were installed there
And the station was complete
The keepers then went on the air
Strict schedules to keep

In the 70s things began to change
As government cut-backs came
Now many things were different
Long Point was not the same

Some keepers and the families left
Staff reduction had begun
One keeper stood upon the cliff
Wondering just what was to come

The light stations all were modernized
Lights and fog horns now were changed
So many things were different
Many thought 'twas really strange

But still one keeper is in charge
To watch and get things done
Report the ice and weather
Make sure the systems run

Let's hope that in the future
As we look in from the sea
The Long Point Light will still be there
And shine for you and me

Are Lightkeepers Really Needed Anymore?
Are lightkeepers really needed
In this country anymore?
Or maybe they should be left to go
The same route as the dinosaur.
Consider the following situation
Of two fishermen in a bind,
And after you know the outcome
You make up your mind!

Two fishermen were getting ready
To go out fishin' in the bay
One fall morning in Newfoundland
It looked like a nice, civil day.
They'd fished for cod all summer
But with so few fish around shore
They decided to go further out in the bay
To try and catch a few more

Their boat was fuelled and ready
They had food and a radio
So they headed for the fishin' grounds
Steaming out for an hour or so.
When they put the gear in the water
With the baited hooks in plain sight
They could see the fish were biting
They knew their decision was right.

The codfish they were catching
Were too big to be believed
But that's what happened every time
The hooks in the water were heaved!
They forgot to put out a grapnel
It was such a great fishin' day
Haulin' in fish as fast as they could
And the big ones did not get away.

But these fishermen didn't realize
They were drifting farther from shore
And the cod just kept on biting
So they kept on catching more.
Suddenly they noticed
They were in a thick fog bank!
When they sized the situation up
Their spirits really sank.

Then they discovered they had left
Their compass ashore that day
So now that they were lost
Way out there in the bay.
But they put a call over the air,
"We're out in the bay in a fog bank,
But we don't know exactly where!"

A lightkeeper heard that radio call
And he knew just what to do.
He turned his station's fog alarm on
So the fog horns blew and blew.
And out there in that fog bank
The fishermen heard the sound
Figured the direction 'twas coming from
And turned their boat around

They cruised along at slow speed
Towards the fog horn's blast
And as the boat moved forward
The sound got louder at last.
By the time they'd cleared the fog bank
Day had turned into night
And in the distance dead ahead
They could see the light station's light.

I daresay those two fishermen feel
That lightkeepers are needed today
Since one lightkeeper's quick response
Helped them get ashore OK
And there've been many such incidents
On Canada's oceans, rivers and lakes
Which go to show the difference
A lightkeeper's presence still makes