Etiquette at the Canalside

by Luke Kennard

New traveller of the shining towpath,
Please be mindful as you roam.
It’s not that you can’t speak, eat, laugh,
But this is everybody’s home.
Let others too enjoy its use,
Be like the duck and not the goose.

Do not preach to the converted
Or assume we’re unaware
That dropping litter’s as perverted
As ignoring others’ cares.
Keep your homilies to yourself,
Leave your manuals on the shelf.

Sorry; it wasn’t my intention
To nag, cajole, instruct or bore,
Just eager that your intervention
Keeps the peace you came here for.
Adopt an attitude, at most,
Of simultaneous guest and host.

Just the kind of regulation
We came here to avoid:
A pelican’s regurgitation.
We sought escape, now we’re annoyed.
“Poetry makes nothing happen”:
A good reason to shut your trap, then.

A pelican sustains through vomit
All his or her offspring, so
Actually, your analogy, I hold it
A great compliment, and lo:
Even as it breaks the rhyme scheme
I grant myself the final word.