Whitechapel Girls (The Ripper Poem)

Whitechapel Girls (The Ripper Poem)

The market's out of time and new Edwardians linger in coffee bars
Black swine still in the sewers of Hampstead
The iron lady's gone in a curl of smoke,
her palace dark,
But you will live forever

Your photo's taped to a rent girl's door, Jack
Across the footpath . . . Queen's Night
a poppy for remembrance
London's calling
Six thousand legless heroes march on Sunday
For Chelsea boys they can't let go

Lady once you
strolled past griffins carved and the Ripper wept
Once you slept
standing up, a rope beneath your arms
Jack you were such a confused
boy the pub where strolled Dark Annie once
There are old girls there now, Jack
Old girls there now

An old country, shamefaced
no Travellers left, only this ruin of a marketplace
where darkened evenings settle down
Cold . . . going nowhere

Once you sat in this pub at the end of the world
Just another raggedy boy on Guy Fawkes' Day
Bodice ripped just so
For Whitechapel girls they don't say no

The Empire is crumbling Jack,
your secret's not safe any more
Battersea, Bethnal Green,
a tired nation is rising in your wake
Big boys, clubfoot shy and moody in their glamour
The letters of transkind traverse no Traveller

Were the leaves this gold and did the lions get away forever?
Were there boxes of soot for early snow,
Did the ploughman weep much longer?
When you walked her there across Palace Gate
Opium still in your veins
Sleeves caught up so carefully
For Whitechapel girls they don't let go
Whitechapel girls they don't let go

- Chi Chi Valenti

Poppy Day (November 7), 1993

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Rob Roth for The Jackie Factory ©1995
Moved to mothernyc.com and updated February 2000