Plumbing Canto VII:

This Canto ups the pace a bit now, as we squeeze in two Circles of Hell: Circle Number Four, where the Hoarders and the Spendthrifts are punished (ie, those who are really bad with money), and Circle Five, where the Wrathful and the Slothful are punished. If you remember, the last Canto (VI) ended with us meeting Plutus guarding the gate of the Fourth Circle.

Canto VII

The tension takes a hold within my gut
as more confusion hits me once again.
A scream puts my behaviour in a rut.

I’m glad of Patrick showing him disdain.
He tells me not to worry with a wink.
He says to Plutus “Get this in your brain.

This man’s allowed to be here.” Plutus blinks.
“This journey’s his. You MUST not take control.”
As Plutus calms right down, I start to think.

There’s bloody loads of people in this hole.
They’re going round in circles pushing weights.
They bump each other as they start to roll

but seem to be in couples, filled with hate.
They wave a piece of paper in their face.
He says “Too dear! A waste of money!”, waits.

But always the response: “It’s NOT a waste!
We’ve got the money, why d’you hoard it up?”
then circle round again with little grace.

This paper that they’ve waved is all screwed up.
I try to steal a look, and I’m surprised.
A Quote I wrote is in their hands, all cupped

up tight, and this is work that they deprived
me of ten years ago when I was skint.
But now I see the problem un-disguised.

They’d never even given me a hint
of these extremities within their world.
They never called me back at all. My stint

of waiting was a memory that curled
around my confidence; a mix of fear,
alarm, frustration, dark emotions pearled

along with one good thought becoming clear
that only letting go a love of things
can start to make these things all disappear.

I’m drawn towards a doorbell ringing out
from nearby paper shops. A queue has formed
of people clutching giro cheques, no doubt.

The Lotto ticket counter being swarmed
by people spending every penny, blown
the lot. Despite the times that they all have been warned

by people meaning well who’ve never phoned
a single hotline helping destitutes.
We traced the riverbank, and heard the groans

from fighting and foul language that pollutes
the Thames, and we forgot our thoughts on luck
and just how dumb it is and how it mutes.

“OI! WHATCHO LOOKIN AT YOU STUPID FUCK”
a bloke has shouted at another guy
who scalps him with a bottle in the ruck,

and lots of people brawling in the mud
are fighting. Each one naked, as before,
and there a lad I knew once, drenched in blood.

I saw him once on Plumbing Module Four.
He’d boast about some fight he’d had last night.
But here he won’t be drinking anymore.

No alcohol to numb them from the sight,
and pain and shame and rage they might have felt
before from kicks and punches, stabs and bites.

“There’s two types punished here.” As Patrick knelt,
he spoke and pointed at the Thames, or Circle Five.
“In here the Wrathful pay their dues. They’re dealt

with on the surface, here you see, alive
with writhing bodies, but below as well
they keep the slothful, even though deprived

of air, you’ll still detect them from the smell
as passive and aggressive words float up.”
And sure enough I listen and can tell.

A larger bubble pops and sounds a muted “fuck”
and “bollocks” or “it worked before, you twat”
and other things that people say when up

in arms, but say it just behind my back
or out of earshot with a smiling face.
We head to Vauxhall bridge to stay on track.

I feel relieved to leave them in disgrace.

© Michael L Radcliffe 2014

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