Up To Me Tosher’s Elbow, Mate

I became oblivious to the God-awful Stench
donkey’s years ago…
but the gargling, slopping sounds
haunt my walking hours something terrible,
and dirty-picture frame my night-time dreams.
Just look at these I’ve got in my pockets,
a solid silver fork, and thirteen pennies,
I’ve only been down below ground
a couple of hours an’ all.
I used to work this Entrance Tunnel
with old Cross-Eyed Bill,
but six months ago he changed,
didn’t utter a word on the matter,
except “I’m Going It Alone From Now On”
and so he did, ah well, more findings for me.
The boys reckon that Queen Rat
must have dragged him into the shadows
and gave him a knee-trembler up against a wall,
but as you know full well,
it’s bad luck to talk once she’s bitten you,
so his trap remains shut on the subject.
Two days later, it was, that he pulled
a gold candlestick holder outta the mud
somewhere up under the North side of Town…
probably got lobbed down a top drain-grate
by some detestable villain
having it away on their toes from the Coppers…
all the same, that’s a bit o’ luck
I wouldn’t have minded having on my side.
Anyway, back to sieving the cracks
beneath my tired and aching, squelching feet.
You’ll get used to it, I promise…
turn off your lamp if it helps,
you won’t need light until you find something,
and in the meantime, me ‘ansome,
just pretend your arms are churning butter, like.

Paul Tristram is a widely published Welsh writer who deals in the Lowlife, Outsider, and Outlaw genres.  He wrote his first poem as a teenager following his release from the (Infamous) Borstal ‘HMP Portland’, and he has been creating Literary Terrorism ever since. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.