January 19, 2022

Of Human Jam, on the Regents Canal, by Padraig O Loingsigh

Of Human Jam, on the Regent’s Canal
There’s a poem by Tomas Hardy,
bout a lady and a strumpet, and
her fear that in the cemetery their bones
would mix indecently.
“There’s not a modest maiden elf
But dreads the final Trumpet,
Lest half of her should rise herself,
And half some local strumpet!

It was given by our guide
at the end of our excursion,
a navigation of St Pancreas Basin,
by the lea of  Kings Cross Station.
In honor of the Hardy man
who used to keep a cemetery
in the old churchyard near by
and buried many goodly folk
the hungry seagulls cry

And he gives us his rendition
on the narrow boat that bore us
through the tunnel under Islington
where the legless sailor drank, and sank
into oblivion.

And we heard her protestations
To the seagulls lamentations
her fear of the confusion
at the final foghorns blast.

And on he spoke, of Gas and Coke
Victorian Architecture, Coal Shuttles
The War, The Docks, The Pox,
All human jam, the mulch of time,
whisked up with bricks and mortar.

Except it doesn’t rise at all,
but sinks down to the bottom:
to bedded archaeology,
and bits of pure codology,
details from the past,

lingerings from an age,
yesterdays page,
never quite forgotten,
never fully rotten.

Sitting on the muddy bottom
of London’s, watery grave: the Regency canal.

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