A strange tide pulled me, moonlike,
In a tall ship, head to heel.
Past the Hammersmith Flyover
To a southern slaver’s town.
I sailed through service stations
And desperate public art,
To sit atop my painted hill
And feel the wind again.
This morning saw me sitting
In a merchant venturers box
Speaking to a pan-faced girl
Shut inside the open plan.
Dressed in cut-price finery,
My heels itching in new shoes
I lied, and my lies she wrote down,
An assessment of my wanderings.
Each mark against my made-up name
Is a lashing at the mainsail.
A plea for alms, a lame-footed tattoo was
Scored above my spine.
The poniard twists! My mutiny
Subdued by other’s fighting.
I thought I could be a coup de grace
In this slaver’s town.
The captain would not like this,
He would shout into my earpiece.
My weekly stats are thinning rope
Holding up the mess.
The tide will turn, one day soon,
To pull me back to London.
Though different winds shall drag these sheets
Through Reading, Datchet, Slough.