Wapping

Where docks bustle with tobacco and brandy,
my execution decree is delivered
Jeffries, the Hanging Judge, slams his mallet
Relishing the sound as it splinters families

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

Under 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

And now I stand a sentenced man
A sinner and a thief
I’m no Bligh!
Just a desperate fool
too hungry for caution
Call me Just, a 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,
made a tar smeared 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 varnish they are but porcelain

While the masses,
the masses’ bones are made of the very iron you choke us with

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