Wetland Character Building


I almost drowned once
down near the mill
swimming the current of the Coquet
three quarters of the way across
my legs lost power
against the undertow
I’m lucky Peck kept his eyes on me
as the river reeds
wrapped around ankles
my head bobbing up and down
like a braeburn on bonfire night
and the rest of the boys
jumped back in
like working-class Hasselhoffs
and pulled me to the side
they were much stronger swimmers than me

a quick rest and pat on the back
spitting up some of the river
then swigging back
some calming Carling
the realisation – dawned on me –
I had to swim back
facing a new fear head on
because backstroke was no good
I’m lucky I’ve got such great mates
we swam back together
like geese fly
    – in formation –
reaching the riverbank’s safety
and although my swimming didn’t improve that day
my character did.

Thanks for taking the time to read my poem, an autobiographical piece of my younger days.

Hope you liked it and if you did, feel free to leave a comment.

Take It Easy

Paul x

Pre-Dawn Swimming

As teenagers
we swam the river at 4 in the morning
the cold pink pre-dawn watched us flail
our underage drunken legs unsteady in the calm water
feeble attempts to wash away the taint
of cheap vodka, value cola and sleeping bag sourness

we were like calves
breaking away from the protection of our parents
arrogant and unwise to the world we thought we knew best
but even the young Shorthorns upstream had more sense than us
because they knew better than to bathe in others shit

I don’t know whose idea it was
for all of us to jump in fully clothed
probably Dave’s – he was partial to a plan
– and vomit
he was a puppet king of sorts
living in the shadow of the castle

we were a sight
walking the back lanes to drip dry
crumpled kids carrying crumpled tents and crushed up sleeping bags
stumbling home without words spoken
the only sound heard was the clanging of dragging pegs and poles
chittering out a slurred morse code that forces a gang of grins
a simple message
– ‘Same again next week’.




Thanks for taking the time to read my poem. I love hearing your comments and feedback.

Also feel free to share.

Take it easy,

Paul