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Stroudwater Navigation (poetry)

originally published by Yew Tree Press

Last Thursday my thirst bettered me
and I drank the Stroudwater Canal
all eight miles of it down in one
long swallow. I can’t stop barking
like the paddleboarder’s spaniel,
picking at the tail hair in my teeth.
Once I’d got over the cygnet’s egg,
the trolley and milk-bottled mud,
I choked on brick at Nutshell Bridge,
tasted coal, lung tonic, the dust
of widow-makers settled in
the gunwhale of a Severn Trow.
Bow-hauled by ghosts, their coprolalia
on my lips made me madder than a stroud.
My stomach foundered on tradecloth,
the theft of New World skin and bone,
I got high on tea and opium
a Montecarlo pleasure boat
sailed my gastrointestines.
All my depth perception’s gone,
I’ve let the flock go to my head,
how is it I keep thirsting
like the Navigation’s dead?

Originally published by Yew Tree Press. Featured in Stroud's Wool and Water Festival programme, August 2019.