That Gaffer Was A Golfer ( poem )


George Martin

April 02, 1936 – October 02, 2017


This is a poem for George

Of his life in form and time

Like rivers that tell stories to the sea

George Martin was a story teller

On The Salish Sea.

From Canoe Cove to Echo Bay

From ‘Coast to Coast Radio’,

from ‘Great Northern Boaters Net’ and

From Island to island

From wooden boat to wooden boat

From Queen Charlotte Strait to Cape Caution

Resting in gentle bay by tidal sway.

Water was in his blood

Water under his keel

Water in his sailors’ eye.

He could kiss water

The root of civilization,


Water, word for freedom

Water was his freedom

His love and his kiss

Of George’s life in form and time

His partner was Louise.

His vessel was Surf Scoter

Which according to legend

Perspired linseed oil while cruising.



He was like free water itself

He body-surfed on water

He loved idle water in a well.

But preferred the smell of sea and swell.

Even water in the solitude of cup

Even water in the sap of tree

He was water not for sale.

He was water not for fracking.

He was water for sailing and  tacking,

Water for Buffer his golden retriever

Water in a tea cup with Louise,

Water in the mind of trees

He was water that chose its vessel,

Water not constrained by river banks.

He loved free water everywhere,

But not in fish farms that breed disease


Not able to constrain himself

George preferred water to behave

Especially when docking or at anchor.

He was extroverted, and predictably

Unpredictable like water.

If he were a river he’d be lusting for the sea

He was the water of the sea

Where the water stories are told.

He could have filled volumes

For a library. But in the old tradition

He was a jovial oral voice, a friendly

Skillful reconteur.



The older he got in form and time

He became seduced by trees

He became the sap of an apple orchard

When he played golf at Ardmore.

He marvelled at ancient Douglas firs,

Over a thousand years of strength.

He was strong and athletic

Until his blood was assaulted by

A tar sands bulk carrier, the freighter

‘The Leukemia’ that poisoned his sea,

Ran aground, broke up, spilled oil.

The water in his veins got tarred

By the pollution of foreign debris.

His skin paled to canvas from anemia

On arms that once pulsed with arteries

That swelled like working rivers

As he climbed the mast in gales.


He played golf like a gaffer

Always checking the directions

Of the wind, sensing the windy

Ripples in water and grass

Feeling the roll of deck and green.


As George’s physical form faded,

The arms and legs of my nine month

Grandson swelled with muscles.

My grandson’s lungs expanded with

Practice for songs yet to come, and

George expressed joy in my joy

But the slider switches on his mixers

Dampened the intensity of his enthusiasm.

His shallow voice spoke what we both knew

What neither wanted to admit.

But in my heart I could hear his

Full voiced laughter

Endless in the coffee shops

Of coastal B.C..


Water is life

As a mountain creek grows stronger

As a stream becomes a river

As liquid life surges on to freedom

Cutting through canyons

Carrying alluvial soil to deltas

and tells new stories to the sea,

So is my grandson.

So was George

In his prime


Water is life

As a flooding desert arroyo

Dwindles to a trickle,

As its flow crystallizes to salt,

As arteries cut the skin of banks

As water evaporates,

Even a great lake disappears.

So was my friend.

So was George.


All terrestrial life has form

Size and dimension.

But is the soul of George beyond form?

Beyond all time and dimension?

Does the soul look outward with a new yearning

For liberation like a new type of water

No longer confined by islands

Or continents, a new formless form

With a new breeze and a new currrent

Ready to tell formless stories to a formless sea.


Or is George the talking water of the riptide, telling stories.

What stories will The Water Whisperer whisper?

Will he be the water in the tears we cry?

Or on my forehead, rain drops from the sky?

Or a peaceful wave that calms the Salish Sea?

Or a warm glow, in my cup, of Orange Pekoe tea?


Of Life and death!

For us it is that Ancient Question

From yesterday morning.





About the author : Wally du Temple

Books written by Wally du Temple are sold by where author information is available in English.