My working hours I share
with owls, grave robbers, a racing moon.
Sixpence for my pains, a decent wage
I’ll admit, but few have the stomach
to shovel out a long drop or privy,
load a cart with slop and solid; a wad
of crushed myrtle helping little
as I creak towards Dung Wharf,
discharge my cargo – like a vast
evacuation – into the squealing midden,
fuming with every nuance of gut.
The dog days are the worst
when it seems, all the bluebottles
in Southwark, choose to decorate me. At least
I have my roses then, grown fat and fragrant,
with all a city can offer.
Stephen Bone’s latest pamphlet, Plainsong ( Indigo Dreams ) was published in 2018.