Two Poems from Michelle Smith

A Higher Boat Crew

The crumping noise and skreek of tortured steel
announced the presence of pretend pirates.
Around the bend they barged, with trailing ropes
and noxious clouds of rank dieselly smoke.
Decked to the nines in fine suits by Smiffy’s,
yellowed round the armpits from hire days of yore,
they were an anachronistic sight to see.
They waved beer cans and tired jolly Rogers
at kids and gongoozlers on the towpath,
and sprayed obscenities from red chump chops.
No high seas for the likes of those heroes,
yet! A galleons crew seemed crammed aboard.
They hung rudely from the portholes and hatches
and lolled on the roof of their hapless craft.
The drunken helmsman found forward again
propelling boat and crew pubward for more beer.
Then the canal was as before.
A bee buzzed in a bush; a mallard quacked,
A surprised fisherman mouthed, WTF!

The Canal Boat Boggart

It’s never fussy about about who to torment,
to wreak a bit of havoc is its main intent.
It won’t leave til it’s sent you round the bend,
the canal boat Boggart is nobodies friend.

This nasty beastie is a juvenile little scrote,
it’ll stand on the towpath and chuck poo at your boat.
It’ll put mould spots on all of the clothes you wear,
and clog up the waste pipe with its curly black hair.

In the dark of night its favourite thing,
is to scamper round the gunwales and make an awful din,
and when your porta potti is full to the top,
it loves to clog the elsan* with foul and stinky slop.

It’ll pull out your pins* when you’re not around
It’ll open up the lock paddles to make you run aground
It’ll tinker with your engine so you can only go in reverse,
believe me boaters,that Bogey is perverse.

It’ll steal your bicycle and hoof it down a thorny bank,
and then put some little bugs into your diesel tank.
It fiddles with the gas when dinner’s nearly done,
then messes up the pump so the water will not run.

When think you can’t stand anymore,
it’ll call up the slugs from beneath the floor.
Then it’ll invite it’s friend, the rapacious rat,
which will chew through your welcoming mat.

So, when things are really awful and the cat has begun to moult,
Just blame the boating Boggart, it was all its fault.

*A place where boaters empty their toilets and pins used to moor boats to the canal bank.

Michelle Smith is a 38 year old mature student who studies english literature and creative writing at Bathspa university. She lives in Bath with her partner, two children and a smelly hound. When not trying to drown herself on the waterways, she writes nonsense to amuse her friends and family.


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