Of all the dinner ladies, Mrs Spencer
was our favourite. She skipped round the playground
trailing long lines of children off each hand.

The big ship sails through the Alley Alley Oh

She also made us footballs from her old tights,
a small green cushion we hoofed and chased
in a squealing pack every break and lunchtime.

The Alley Alley Oh, the Alley Alley Oh

If the brown nylon poked out, we stuffed
it back in and carried on playing, Mrs Spencer
and the other children all singing, singing.

The big ship sails through the Alley Alley Oh

When Smithy missed the ball completely, his shoe
flew off, smashing our reflection in the classroom
window. But Mrs Spencer finished her song.

On the last day of September



Michael Shann lives in Walthamstow, East London, and is a member of the Forest Poets writers group. He has had three poetry pamphlets published by the Paekakariki Press (Euphrasy, Walthamstow and To London) and was awarded 2nd prize in the 2023 Waltham Forest Poetry Competition. His poem ‘Honey, best cat in the world’ was featured in issue 2 of Tyger Tyger Magazine. Michael works for the charity Carers UK and he is currently working on a collection of poems about Epping Forest. michaelshann.com