Poem by Ian Ritchie

The Legend of Amber Gris

With best wishes, to my good friends Gaby Perez and John B. Grief III

There was an ancient mariner
his hair was white as snow.
Out fishing by the Barrier Reef
his favorite place to go.

His fishing guide was Gaby
and Love was called the boat
and not too far from Hol Chan
at night this pair would float.

One night so calm the sea was glass
the white moon in the sky
a tug put Ritchie on his ass
and Gaby gave a cry

We’ve caught a whopper shouted he
don’t lose the critter now.
And Ritchie snarled but with some glee
it pulls like a mad cow.

For three long hours this pair they fought
a monster from the deep.
then white foam rose beside the boat
and Gaby gave a shriek.

We’ve caught a human being man
and it can’t be a corpse.
it’s fighting like a maniac
and kicking like a horse.

I’ll get the gaff said Ritchie.
But Gaby said no way.
To stick this fellow with a gaff
would hardly be fair play

He swirled and twirled his bait net
and threw it far and wide.
But little did he know then
he’d caught the island’s bride.

Then as they slowly lifted
their hard won piscine prize
the two of them confronted
the loveliest pair of eyes.

Glowing from the darkness
with fear and sadness too
a pair of enormous eyes
the sea’s most wondrous blue.

Were crowned with hair so fine and long
the color of black coral.
That hardly hid a pair of tits
so firm they couldn’t wobble.

With eyes so wide and tugs and heaves
they laid her on the floor.
And staggered with amazement
at what their eyes then saw

For instead of waist and legs
and other lovely parts
she was all covered in scales
with a tail just like a carp

We’ve caught a mermaid Gaby gasped.
Breathed Ritchie come on now
we all know that a mermaid
is what they call sea cow

A manatee is different
it has an ugly face
and to call this beauty ugly
would indeed be a disgrace

It’s been a while said Ritchie
Since I have eaten fish.
To find a part where I could start
would be my dearest wish.

I can’t believe this Gaby cried.
I can’t believe our luck.
And Ritchie just exclaimed but once
a word that rhymes with duck.

Your fame and fortune’s made he said
and fishermen from afar
will come to hire the Love boat
and brag back in the bar

But Gaby didn’t listen
as he said with joy and greed
Can’t wait to catch another
Let’s hope in shoals they feed

The two of them were getting hot
and argument was growing.
The mermaid lay there quietly
with tears now freely flowing.

Let’s take her back they finally said
and ask what we should do.
We’ll land her at the Tackle Box
before her motley crew.

I do not think that Gaby said
is a very good idea
They’d put her in with all those sharks.
a fate I know she’d fear.

Let’s take her to the Hustler Dock
the Leslie boys are ready.
they say that any time at all
to properly treat a lady.

They revved up Love’s two engines
and headed for the shore.
The mermaid lay there quietly
sweet innocence and more

Outstanding beauty face and form
Loveliness sublime.
This child from Neptune’s Treasure Chest
To take her was a crime.

But try and stop a fisherman
from showing off his catch.
And Gaby knew the other guides
Would die, his triumph to match.

Arriving at the jetty
you could see the people shocked.
As word went round from mouth to mouth
a huge crowd quickly flocked.

Sgt. Ramirez called “Silence”
this hardly is the norm.
And solemnly produced
an immigration form.

You could have heard a pin drop.
Indrawn breath was but a hiss.
The mermaid on the form wrote
My name is Amber Gris.

The sergeant looked upon the girl
and trying to be nice
said welcome to San Pedro.
Let me give you some advice.

Don’t go too near to Elvi’s
because you really are a dish
and you wouldn’t last a minute
as they specialize in fish

He turned to Ritch and Gaby
and crossly he exclaimed
They’re surely out of season
I expect you will be blamed

The Town Board held a meeting
in a very secret place
Another alien coming
was really a disgrace

They wrote to the Prime Minister
and to Glenn Godfrey too.
With great respect as usual
to ask what they should do.
She needs a work permit they said
and a trade license too.

The Ministry sent a chap at once
He came from Belmopan.
Victim fell to the mermaid’s spell
As did every normal man.

He filled in all the papers
and made a long report
recommending citizenship.
We can’t this child deport.

As for her proper status
her name is Amber Gris.
She has a tail just like a whale
so she must be a fish.

The tourists came from far and wide
to see this wondrous beauty.
And many wanted for a bride
the island’s latest cutie.

But Amber wasn’t interested
and the tourists rolled in fast.
Fortune smiled with Neptune’s child.
It was too good to last.

Temptation came in human form
although from out the sky
She from the reef – he called John Greif
Tropic’s macho guy.

So young, so handsome was this Greif
so slick and debonair.
A dreadful cad just like his dad
it really wasn’t fair.

She lost her heart and then her head
and other things no doubt.
Was innocent no longer
his conquest was a rout.

It’s said that after diving
with seaweed in his hair
he walked out on the mermaid
and ended the affair.

We all know then what happened.
‘Tis every father’s fear.
A daughter that’s out drinking
with strangers at the pier.

Her beauty faded quickly.
Her pristine sweetness fled.
She even gave up swimming
her eyes entirely dead.

The end then came quite swiftly
as too the tourist trade.
She disappeared completely
did Neptune’s sweet mermaid.

Some say at night outside the reef
you can hear poor Amber crying.
And others say that’s nonsense
it’s only the wind sighing.

But the moral of this story
is clear for all to see.
Treat Nature’s treasures gently.
God save Ambergris Caye.

Ian Ritchie

Click to Go back to List of Poems

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed on this post.