Trial By Thames

where docks bustle with tobacco and brandy my execution decree is delivered
the Hanging Judge slams his mallet, splintering families

surrounded by foreign souvenirs, the Fuchsia and Malaria, I’m breathless in this oil lit night

afraid and aggrieved

under the poor law and the bascule bridges that seesaw I’ve toiled
a slave in rag chains, amidst the evil smell that clings to stairs
hunted by the beast that stalks from Indian bays

now I stand a sentenced man, sinner and a thief

i’m no Bligh! a desperate fool too hungry for caution
call me Just, the victim of an age

i beg of you, before you take that firebrand and burn my eyes
allow a last quart at the Turks Head to dull the hurt
then take your noose and hang me from it, for three tides in a cage
a tar brushed spectacle

but take heed you lords, for whose justice is this?
while Wapping’s docks devour my flesh, the Thames my bones

judge not the starving man, look to the whip the lease and the hammer
for though the jaws of power are strong, under the varnish they are but porcelain
while the our bones are wrought from the very iron you choke us on

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