Linton Kwesi Johnson: Poems

1980s

“INGLAN IS A BITCH”

Interesting how Johnson feminizes England as “a bitch,” versus “the motherland” and the female symbol of “the Queen” who has dominated mid- to late- 20th century life, as well as Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister in the 1980s when he first performed these pieces.

When me just come to London town.
Me used to work pon the underground.
But working pon the underground.
You don’t get to know your way around.
England is a bitch.
There’s no escaping it.
England is a bitch.
There’s no running way from it.

Me get a little job in a big hotel.
And after awhile, me was doing quite well.
Them start me off as a dishwasher.
But when me take a stack, me no turn clock watcher.

England is a bitch.
There’s no escaping it.
England is a bitch.
Nobody try to hide from it.

When they give you your little wage packet.
First them rob with you them big tax racket.
You have to struggle to make ends meet.
And when you go to bed, you just can’t sleep.

England is a bitch.
There’s no escaping it.
England is a bitch, for true.
And no lie me tell, it’s true.

Me used to work big ditch when it cold as a bitch.
Me was strong as a mule, but boy, me was a fool.
Then after a while me just stop the overtime.
Then after awhile, me just put down me tool.

England is a bitch.
There’s no escaping it.
England is a bitch.
You have to know how to survive in it.

Well me do day work and me do night work.
Me do clean work and me do dirty work.
Them say a black man is very lazy.
But if you see how me work you would have said me crazy.

England is a bitch
There’s no escaping it
England is a bitch
You better face up to it.

Them have a little factory up in Barclay
In this factory all them do is pack crockery
For the last 15 years them get my labor.
Now after 15 years I fall out of favor.

England is a bitch.
There’s no escaping it.
England is a bitch.
There’s no running way from it.

Me know them say they have work, work in abundant.
Yet still, they make me redundant.
Now at 55, I’m getting quite old.
Yet still, them send me to go draw dole.

England is a bitch
There’s no escaping it
England is a bitch, for true.
Is what we going to do about it?

“MI REVALUESHANARY FREN”

I’m interested here in how the word “revalue” gets worked into “revolution.” This piece mixes the multiplicity of cultures of London together in a single patois.

mi revalueshanary fren is nat di same agenyu know fram wen ?
fram di masses shata silencestaat fi grumblefram pawty paramoncy tek a tumblefram Hungary to Poelan to Romaniafram di cozy cyassle dem staat fi crumblewen wi buck-up wananada in a reazninmi fren always en up pan di same tingdis is di sang im love fi sing :
Kaydare ad to goZhivkove ad to goHusacke ad to goHonnickae ad to goCauchescue ad to gojus like apartiedwi av to go
awhile agoh mi fren an mi woz taakinsoh mi seh to im :
wat a way di eart a run nowadays, manit gettin aada by di dayfi know whey yu stancauz wen yu tink yu deh pun salid dry lanwen yu cteck a stack yu fine yu ina quick-sanyu noh notice ow di lanscape a shiffis like valcanoe unda it an notn cyaan stap itcauz tings jusa bubble an a bwoil doun belowstrata seperate an refolean wen yu tink yu reach di mountain tapis a bran-new platow yu goh buck-up
mi revalueshanary fren shake im ed an im sighdis woz im reply :
Kaydare ad to goZhivkove ad to goHusacke ad to goHonnickae ad to goCauchescue ad to gojus like apartiedwi av to go
well mi nevah did satisfy wid wat mi fren mek replyan fi get a deepa meanin in di reazninmi seh to im :
[ From: http://www.metrolyrics.com/mi-revalueshanary-fren-lyrics-linton-kwesi-johnson.html ]well awritesoh Garby gi di people dem glashnasan it poze di Stalinist dem plenty prablemsoh Garby leggo peristrika pan demcanfoundin bureacraetic strategemsbut wi haffi face up to di cole facks;im also open up pondora’s baxyes, people pawa jus a showa every awaan eyrybady claim dem demacraticbut some a wolf an some a sheepan dat is prablematic:nah tings like dat yu woulda call dialectic ?
mi revalueshanary fren pauz awhile an im smileden im look mi in mi eye an reply :Kaydare ad to goZhivkove ad to goHusacke ad to goHonnickae ad to goCauchescue ad to gojus like apartiedwi av to go
well mi couldn elabarateplus it waz gettin kinda latesoh in spite a mi lack af andastandinbout di meanin a di changes in di easfi di wes nonedilessan aldow mi av mi rezavayshansbout di cansiquenses an implicashansespehsaally fi black libaraeshanto bring di reaznin to a canclushanah ad woz to agree wid mi frenhopein dat wen wi meet up wance agenwi coulda av a more fulla canvahsaeshan
soh mi seh to im, yu know wat ?im seh wat ? mi seh :
Kaydare ad to goZhivkove ad to goHusacke ad to goHonnickae ad to goCauchescue ad to gojus like apartiedsoon gaan

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s