City River Blues


Went to the river
Seeking inspiration,
Saw dead fish floating
Dead men boating
And condoms galore.

Sat by the river
From where cometh
Dat bloody smell,
For if I waz wize
And I could tell
The world would know.

This is our river
It runs through our lives
This is our river
Our shit-coloured river,
It’s had it
But it’s ours.

This river speaks
Every boot had a body
Every shirt had a friend,
And the old boys
Say they shall all meet
Where every river ends.

Here by this river
Joe Public wrote songs
And ships came
From far away,
Capitalism lived here,
Ships left from here,
To cheat someone,

This river is on the map
The Queen came here,
The King came here,
Hitler bombed it,
Joe Bloggs bombed it,
A hundred factories
Bomb it every day,
But this river won’t go away,
They say.

Went to the river
Seeking inspiration,
Got eco-depression,
Got stopped and searched,
Got called a coon,
Got damned lungs,
Got city river blues.

from Propa Propaganda (Bloodaxe, 1996), © Benjamin Zephaniah 1996, used by permission of the author c/o United Agents; Recording from Reggae Head: Spoken Works (57 Productions, 1997)

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