Dock Boy

I worked down at the old Wapping Dock Warehouse,
clerking for the Mersey Docks and Harbor Board,
clocking the ships in and out, the banana boats
from Guatemala, the Guinness boats from Dublin,
ships from Brazil mounded with cocoa and coffee,
Blue Funnel boats from Singapore and the Malacca Strait,
all entered on ruled sheets in turquoise fountain pen ink,
ships in King’s or Queen’s dock, Huskisson or Salthouse, freight
in and out of the Mersey. Ports of which I could only dream.

I began my day with a thick mug of tea, a bacon butty
from the Dock Road Cafe across the tram tracks.
Shivered when my office mate Angus left the window open,
hands blue in woollie gloves, tops of the fingers cut off.
Played footie on the muddy cobbles with the dockers
at lunchtime, to the tinny sound of “Yellow Submarine”
on a docker’s transistor that subbed for a goalpost:
I am Ian bloody St. John, number 9, knocking the goals in.
Gonna need new Clark’s ’lastic-side shoes when I get home, Nan.