Plumbing Canto 1

I’ve had an idea for a series of poems that I’m going to write called “The Plumbing Cantos”. They will be based on Dante‘s description of the 9 Circles of Hell in his “Inferno” poem which forms part of the Divine Comedy.

The Plumbing Cantos will form my first attempt at an epic poem, and will take a lot of inspiration from my experiences of plumbing in the real world, while at the same time attempting to be universal and allegorical at the same time. They may remain as they are or be re-written on the fly. I may take comments as a sort of informal “Reading Group”, and I reserve the right to take them on board or ignore them completely. Don’t take it personally. 🙂

Here we go:

Plumbing Canto 1

I came upon a mid-life point in stealth
Like many other people: Forty-Three,
Not living, working hard at something else.

I’d lost myself in darkness. Hard to be.
Un-certain how I got there. Hard to say.
I’d felt there was a better life for me.

A kind of sleep-walk brought me day-by-day
that kind of living death we all despise.
I stopped to wonder how it got this way.

A tower block! And then I raised my eyes
To see my home; the window’s light a hint
Of warmth and comfort made my spirits rise.

A woman dressed in onesie, leopard print
had stood and blocked the entry phone to me.
She sucked her teeth and flicked her purple tint,

her hair across her face but not for me.
Her children, feral, kicking footballs near
My legs, some windows, cars and OAPs.

“Oh will you shut the fuck up! Keys aren’t here.
Serenity, you’re doing my head in. God!”
My chance to enter in did not appear.

Instead I turned around and left and trod
the broken glass-strewn path the way I came
towards the dark and cursed the little sods

And so I tried another way in vain –
the route was cordoned off by thin blue line
“We’ve had to make arrests” Police explained.

It’s not the kind of night I had in mind,
with feeling overwhelmed and under-slept.
A leash-less, snarling Staffy dog behind

began to bark and chased me till I wept.
I sat on fencing, gathering my strength.
I couldn’t work out where to go and yet

A man appeared. We talked of things at length.
“Have pity on me, sir.” I rubbed my eyes
“I don’t know who you are. I somehow sense

that you can help me.” Looking up he sighs.
“I have to say you’ve seen my acting kids
on TV shows, dear boy.” To my surprise

he says “the biggest role I ever did
was Doctor Who from ’67 on.
Now can we talk about the things YOU did?”

“You’re Patrick Troughton? No, you must be wrong.
He passed away in Georgia, USA.
I just need help. This Canto’s got too long.”

I’m meant to go, tonight, along the way
to quote for plumbing work at half past eight.
I’m also meant to invoice by today.

I’ve lots to do before it gets too late.
I’m feeling overwhelmed, this job’s too much.
I want to be at home on my estate.”

“Well ‘Leopard-printed Onesie Girl’, as such
Won’t let you pass; you’re in a kind of Hell.”
He paused a while, my shoulder felt his touch.

“I think, dear boy, to get you feeling well,
I need to guide you on a journey through
the circles that describe your Plumbing Hell.

Perhaps in facing things, you’ll be renewed.
There’s happy, well-intentioned people there,
Or possibly you’ll realise you’re screwed.”

A chance. This opportunity is rare.
An unknown path, a chance I’ll take, of course.
To be a better man or live Despair.

He lead the way. I went without a pause.

 

© Michael L Radcliffe 2013

All The Cantos   Second Canto 

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2 Responses to Plumbing Canto 1

  1. Grace says:

    I love this. Particularly this bit:

    ‘ “Perhaps in facing things, you’ll be renewed.
    There’s happy, well-intentioned people there,
    Or possibly you’ll realise you’re screwed.” ‘

    It brings to mind similar things one cane bark on to try and get renewal – church, or AA.

    I also enjoy how the word ‘screwed’ creeps up on you a bit. And is a plumbing word.

    Can’t wait for Canto 2.

  2. Michael Radcliffe says:

    Thank you Grace! Lovely comments. Yes, I’m trying to make sure that it’s “universal”, and that people will be able to relate it to other experiences in life.

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