March 2020: The girls and I were in a camper van in Sicily. Ania was on a cross country cycle ride with a group of bloggers. One day later Italy was hit by the first Covid panic. Several of Ania’s co-cyclists were stuck in Italy unable to return home. We rushed north and just got out in time.

I have illustrated most of my poems, so an illustrated version may even now be sitting elsewhere in cyberspace . . . or maybe in a book.

The Sink Plunger

If you’re that kind of a person who thinks
one should plunge with sink plungers in sinks,
you are wrong, but I’ll soon put you right.

Then your wisdominiferous light
will shine: it will sparkle about –
until people will sing and will shout
in awe of the brilliance you’ll show,
and the things that you suddenly know.

Now some folks are led up the path
of a red herring’s garden – Don’t laugh –
For, you see, the word “plunge,” (you may know)
implies down’s the direction to go.

With less thought than a rocking-horse foal,
such people squelch DOWN in the bowl;
when if only they’d just realise
that UP is the way of the wise!

Some dry scabby skin from between mummy’s toes;
indescribable slime, long since blown from a nose;
a tangle of short curly pieces of hair
and some of your grandpa’s nail-clippings are there.
All bound in some goo you hope’s pure and saponical
but that terrible stench seems more anatomical.

Best not think of your brother who locked himself in,
or those noises he made; his half-guilty grin.

For a while now, the gobbet has accumulated
and putrefied faster than it dissipated.
If that sludge-plug could have been flushed in the stream,
it would be long gone and the pipe would be clean.

So please don’t plunge down with your plunger cup there,
for the cup will contain some proportion of air.
And that air will compress, then escape in the sludge,
like an impotent fart, with the blockage unbudged.

Just pause for a moment and let us rewind.
Consider physical laws and then we shall find
there’s a way we can use all that slime and the water
to assist in the clearance of blockage, dear daughter!

Do just as I say. Take one step at a time,
and we’ll succeed by the time I have finished this rhyme.
You see? Hiding in the waste pipe, here . . .
is all the pressure of the atmosphere!

Now squelch with the cup on the end of the pole
to expel all the air. No! Not over the hole.
Then slither the tool, with a slippery slide,
over the waste with a sludge-slimy glide.

Now take a short pause. And attack by surprise!
Pull up like a shot and the blockage will rise.
In fact to be sure, it’ll come like a rocket –
and may stick on the ceiling, or fall in your pocket.


Fine poetry needs no words to explain.
But mine has nothing to lose; perhaps something to gain?

So I’ll just pop in here, that an overflow
bypasses the suction, as I’m sure you will know.
So if your wash basin has got one of those,
block the hole with your finger or one of your toes.

And frequently plug holes include a small grid.
It’s there to avoid losing rings that have slid
off from your finger, made slippy by soap.
Don’t think this will spoil things; don’t give up all hope.

The suction and pressure still work ’round the bend.
To be sure, the grid helps a satisfactory end
for the gobbet’s dislodged, just exactly the same.
Only difference will be, it won’t shoot from the drain.

So now, though you’ve unblocked the pipe: Oh, good job!
There’s no chance you’ll be bombed by a putrescent glob.

So at last, you now know everything that I think
about the pink slunger that’s under the sink.

Nick James      Posted in:



March 2020, Sicily

Header Image:

Illustration by the Author