If you go down to the docks today

All day the bands play and the hooters hoot.
The tall ships look down on the short ships.
Tugs hernia hawsers in the top tug-of-war tug tug.
Gerry croons the Ferry across the tide, rain or shine.
And the crowd ebbs and flows with the moon.

The straight fake sailors corset best bitter bellies,
raise Cains and accordions to a long-haul shanty,
a short-drag on a Navy Cut and tots of yo ho ho.
Sing bully beef, hard-tack and maggots
and a dirty girl in any port in a storm.

The gay fake sailors stroke walrus moustaches,
tilt pop-eye doughboy hats, cruise round cruisers
in tit-tight matelot T-shirts, flexing pecs, flying
Jolly Rogers full-mast from the rumps
of their razor-creased bell-bottomed keks.

And fey fake lady sailors, Bristols fashioned,
totter on stiletto-heeled deck boots,
swing hammock hips in sail-cloth skirts,
sport shark-net tights, loose tongues and naval navels
pierced with silver mooring rings.

In Davy Jones’ locker, at full-fathom five,
the bones of real sailors moan in their un-graves.
Dock-side, their ghosts mingle with the tourists
in the guise of cab-drivers and travel agents.
While the crowds ebb and flow with the moon.

By Colin Watts