Plumbing Canto 6: GLUTTONY

Though knocked unconscious ONCE AGAIN by this,
this utter sadness “Lusty Man” exudes
I’m woken by the smell of inch-deep piss.

I’m in another circle now; squint through
the browny rivers running round my boots.
Disheartened folk, submerged, and yet protrude

from underneath a mouldy sewer’s fruits.
The place is like a massive manhole bench
that’s blocked and backed up hard, because it suits

as punishment for Gluttony; a stench
that rises from the turds and tampons thrown
down toilets; items lost. There’s my old wrench!

It’s guarded by a fat old worm who groans,
his three heads barking, snarling, rip & spit.
This Cerberus will tear us to the bone.

So Patrick Troughton scoops up clumps of shit
and slaps them quickly in his open gobs
in hope his hunger satiates a bit.

In fact it works! He settles down and bobs
about a little while I look around
and see a guy who’s sitting up while gobs

of fecal matter drop and trickle down
his neck. I hold my nose and ask his name.
“It’s Cérdez.” Not a name I know. I frown.

“Should I remember you?” My frown remains.
“I used to live around near Stockwell tube,”
he says and wipes the waste away again.

“I’d never cross the river ever, dude.
I’d never travel North, lived always South
of Father Thames that Bazalgette has screwed.”

“But will the Thames flood London’s people out?”
I ask: “Is there a future for my work?”
While Troughton shovels shit in Cerby’s mouth

“They want the Super Sewer built to lurk
below the Thames to process all the waste.
The Tideway Tunnel (as it’s called) won’t work

No matter where the access dig is placed.
The NIMBY-est of people win the fight
to stop the work from being in their face.

The irony. They don’t want this in spite
of being gluttons making waste at will,
indulging just because we had the right

to lay a block-paved driveway that will fill
a skip with turf that soaks rainwater up,
and even at the bottom of a hill.

The politics and arguing are stuck
while poorer people, drowning, wash away
ignoring that our climate there is fucked.”

“But what about my mates who live today?
What happens in their future? is there hope?”
The guy turns back; there’s nothing more he’ll say.

The smell of crap has now become a joke.
Dejection settles in, and seeps through clothes,
as if you’re in the shadow of a rope.

“You shouldn’t be so nosey”, Patrick crows.
“Oh come on Pat, you’re not for real.” I growl
“That people like their privacy, I know.

But yet, to me, this place is way too foul
to carp about the dignity they’ve lost.
If you could lay the Guilt on with a trowel

you would” as, wading through the dross
I ask “Who’s punishing the people here?
The “Good” v. “Bad” distinction makes me cross.”

I feel the conversation being steered
away to things I do not want to say.
I’ll tell you sometime over pints of beer.

But then we find that Plutus blocks the way.

Copyright 2014 Michael L Radcliffe

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