Sharks patrol the Norfolk Broads,
The playing fields of Eaton Square
And the local geriatric wards.
Blood in the water everywhere,
Frantic thrashing in the shallows,
Flash of fins, and splintered sallows
A feeding frenzy at All-Hallows,
Wapping Wharf and Shadwell Stair.
And this is good for us! Sink or swim;
If a shark takes an arm and a leg
It’s how things are, law of the gym,
Law of the sea. Get out and beg!
At Bank, Hyde Park and Oxford Circus,
Jaws clamped open, hunting workers,
Breeders, brooders, strivers, shirkers,
The chicken and the egg,
Sharks are feeding. How they feed!
More air, more paving stones and mud,
More (if you cut us, do we not bleed)
A shark picks up the scent of blood
From miles away) unlucky losers,
The left-behind, the boozer-users,
Livebait for these cruising bruisers,
Smooth arrivers on the flood.
No-one, fuck! can stop us feeding.
We ate the mines, the mills, and now
The small towns in the hills are bleeding
And everyone to us is chow.
The old, the weak are easy meat; a shark
Will just as breezily take down
The flesh of fools who loiter after dark
Outside the Mitre or the Crown.
Our best bet is to get away
To some backwater B&B,
A rain-flecked window and a tray
Of crab-paste sandwiches for tea;
Gin and whisky, those slow killers,
Rows of damp Victorian villas
And the pub, the old Green Pillars –
While they gather out at sea.
unpublished poem, Alan Jenkins 2014, used by permission of the author