Plumbing Canto 3

Last one for the weekend. This is the 3rd one in an ongoing epic poem series, based on Dante’s Inferno. You can read Canto 1 and Canto 2 first if you’d like to get a sense of where I’m going with it.

This is my favourite so far.

 

Plumbing Canto 3

The legend written just above the gate
said: “Either this or living on the dole.
Through here you’ll get to see the people’s fate

who made Themselves the only worthy goal.
The closest thing you’ll see to modern sin,
your last remaining chance of staying whole,

Abandon Hope all ye who enter in.”
“Take courage, lad” said Pat “No turning back.
We’ll fortify ourselves with shots of gin.”

And in we went; the air was blue and black
with languages and angry voices, next
to plumbers’ vans of every type all stacked

along the River Effra’s banks, with text
of every type, and stickers everywhere
in every livery that you can get

with plumbers’ numbers, Gas-Safe stickers, large
emblazoned names in clashing colours loud
as dodgy typefaced scattered business cards.

The sun was coming up behind a cloud
revealing everything and more besides
and in amongst the massive plumbers’ crowd

were posh and chavvy standing side by side.
Some spiky crew-cuts, male & female, all
the races represented thin and wide.

And every single person, big or small
was absolutely naked. Every one.
There’s every type of tatt and piercing, all

were glinting in the light, the rising sun
had brought out midges, biting everywhere
and bruised and open wounds began to run.

“Excuse me love” I said “Don’t mean to stare.
But why’ve you got no clothes on? What’s the point?”
“You dirty little bastard” she declared.

“I’m after 15 mill compression joints.
The Plumbers’ Merchant on the other side.
We’re going over there” she says, and points.

A boat approaches. Squinting and inside.
the Mayor of London brings the ferry there
and moors and waits to give them all a ride.

“Well HE can’t come aboard” the Mayor declares
“It’s fine” says Patrick “He’s a special case.”
At this the naked plumbers shout and stare

The Mayor of London hits them round the face.
He’s found an oar and grabbed it, swung it round
and beat them on the boat, and took his place.

“Get on” hissed Patrick “Do not make a sound.”
I’ll tell you things about these people here.
What goes around does truly come around.

And if you’re plumbing well, then have no fear
Don’t pay for advertising like they do
‘Cos if your work is good, then people hear.

It’s word-of-mouth that brings the work to you.”
By then, the smell, the wind, the heavy sun
had got to me; and Troughton’s words rang true.

I passed out, tired, and feeling overcome.

 

© Michael L Radcliffe 2013

Second Canto    All The Cantos

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