Poems of the Week


by Julia Griffin

“Banned performance-enhancing supplements. Drug-resistant bacteria. Human fat. These are the disturbing new finds in an ‘autopsy’ of an enormous, 2,460-foot-long ‘fatberg’ found on the South Bank in Central London. It’s just one of 12 such greasy beasts currently clogging London’s sewer system. … Leftover cooking oil gets tipped down the sink. This is immediately attracted to the ‘wet ones’ that people insist on flushing down their toilets despite warnings not to do so. Together, they catch an enormous variety of gruesome discards: sanitary pads, condoms, needles. All have to be cleared by hand.”–News.com.au

Through London, so we hear, a strange
Report is running round
That something like a mountain range
Is swelling underground;

That tampons, half-digested pills
And fat from frying pans
Have fused in grey, forgotten hills
Or grunge Leviathans.

It’s true. They’re stuffing London’s drains,
Each bigger than a bus–
Or so they would, without the pains
Endured for you by us.

We are the Foemen of the Fat:
Fatburglars, if you will,
Who wrestle with the rubbish that
Could make all London ill;

We happy few, we shovelsmiths,
Who aim our picks and jets
At London’s monstrous monoliths
Of oil and serviettes.

Think not that company a joke
That hacks and squirts and delves
(O foolish, flushing London folk!)
To guard you from yourselves:

You’d else have learned, through punctured pipes,
How far your comfort leans
On needles, grease, polluted wipes,
And banned amphetamines.