The London Whale Fiasco
It wasn’t the first time for a pod
to swim up from Southend, draw crowds
through Tilbury, blow spume at Tower Bridge,
but the first time they filtered left
at the Walbrook and headed for the City.
Who knew whales had a penchant, a passion
for the risky bet, inside knowledge of
commodities like krill and seals, shrimp and crabs;
that they would go out on a limb, hoping for
some fluke of trade to keep their silver solvent.
Whales out on the strand, in the Strand,
on the town, in the City, walking fin-in-hand,
swinging their tails in an ever-bigger band,
making their mark on the crashing cash land.
Grey whale, white whale, blue whale, fin,
humpback, bottlenose, narwhal’s PIN
kept Beluga coming with a killer’s grin,
like dining out on plankton was a mortal sin.
When it all came down, the biggest breach
in the whole of whaledom, the dolphins
couldn’t ride the tidal ripples, got flipped
and rolled. It was their bodies and the porpoises
took the brunt; the small cetaceans
that cackled their despair, shipped out from
Millwall, got caught at the Barrage or beached
on the flats at Leigh-on-Sea. It was the small,
befuddled ones who watched, as the last
escaping Minkes dived deep beyond the estuary.
Poem Not About Water
‘We’re all in this together,
but some have the treads of their Hunters wet,
while others are breathing through straws’.
In stanza one, the water seeps up through the grating,
covers the soles of your boots.
In stanza two you’re paddling,
wondering why you didn’t take the offer of free sandbags.
By the third, cheap wooden furniture you feel you recognise
clusters in doorways, held by the current.
In the fourth, you’re grateful
for the waders you were given by an angling friend,
though you have to remove them by the fifth
so you can swim freely.
The sixth stanza sees you develop a new swim stroke,
based on the tail beats of beavers.
Stanza seven has you over the dyke, thrashing,
eyes scanning the horizon for a ship, a raft, flotsam.
Simon Williams is a poet from Devon. He tweets @GreatBigBadger