Slaver in the River

In the wake of Edward Colston’s statue being thrown and retrieved from the Harbourside in Bristol, George Ayres reflects on history.

George is a member of Bristol Reclaim Independent Living, which gets supported by Arkbound Foundation. He constructed the first poem on the evening of the Sunday after hearing in the afternoon of  the statue being pulled down and placed into Bristol Harbour; the second was on the morning of Thursday having learned that the statue had been fished out by the Bristol City Council.


Slaver in the River

High thy stand  
Fall by hand  
Now you will quiver  
Slaver in the River  
 
Vindicated thyself by wealth  
You indurated that wealth  
You disarticulated others’ selves  
You obliterated their health  
You rooted your wealth  
By looting their selves  
 
“He gave to the city!”  
Says gammons in pity  
While you placed heavy chains  
On souls sold to Jamaica Bay  
Sold for spice for your gain  
As they came to work in pain  
If they had not died on the way  
 
“Tis fair in King Charles’s day”  
The gammon will say  
Till they forgot pain  
That made you gain  
The wealth you rooted  
The selves you looted  
As done in King George’s day  
 
How can we give you pity  
When you robbed others of dignity?  
Before and after you: souls were sold  
Lives sacrificed in the name of gold  
Made to give and toil  
Until they became soil  
You sold lives for spice  
Now you pay the price  
 
You arise proud: now fall  
Down to the streets you go  
Stones are named after you  
Now: forsake you in thy call  
Sold now take you from their woe  
To finally let you go  
Go into the river  
 
They may not wear chains  
But they are kept chained  
Through that which you  
And your friends took  
They are set to woe  
As you grab them by hook  
Yet they never forsake  
Their will to be free  
On either side of the sea  
They will make the Earth shake  
For their dissent is old as their chains  
And they now have a world to gain  
 
As Haiti forced Napoleon to humility  
So now folks cry for their humanity  
To face knees on necks  
As their grandparents face nooses  
They have nothing to lose  
As for the pigs: go to Hell  
For cracking down on the doves  
No wonder Doctor King once spurred:  
“Riots are the language of the unheard”  
 
Now you whose name litters roads  
Do you wash the blood on thy hands?  
Feel no need from where you stand?  
You gave crumbs to the poor  
To golden the name of yours  
By selling souls for your hoard  
Rivers of tears gammons pour  
As you’re laid on the floor  
Till you were taken to bed  
In the river go your head!  
 
What you gave you stole  
That is the story: the whole!  
Man, woman, child: sold!  
No price too dear to hold?  
You had souls thrown overboard  
So they will not spoil your hoard  
Join those bodies on the waterbed!  
You made it: lie you in your bed!  
 
Once you stood  
With no good  
Now you will shiver  
Slaver in the River  
 
 
This poem of 92 lines is dedicated for the victims of Edward Colston and other precipitants of the Atlantic Slave Trade. I give my support to the protests of Black Lives Matter and to the city of Bristol which took to the streets in the name of justice. Solidarity forever! 

Statue Fishing AKA To Fish a Slaver

Sequel to Slaver in the River 
By George A. Ayres 
 
At Bristol Harbour came the scene  
Green winding pulled by machine  
Metal hands pull out a metal man  
What do they set out? What plan  
For a slaver that was in the river?  
 
Set your eyes from the riverbed  
Of which a statue rested their head  
See a man deeply thinking most concise  
Of the lives he sold for a mighty price  
 
Before: pale guys in shorts and socks  
Tried to fish out the statue with rod  
That day their venture was faux  
 
The next day came forth a squad  
Who set up a much stronger rod  
This machine used green winding  
To pull the slaver out the tiding  
 
At Bristol Harbour came the scene  
Of a slaver fished out with a machine  
Oh slaver: what to do with thee?  
After you threw souls into the sea?  
Best rest your head on a riverbed?  
 
This poem of 25 lines is reflection of the recent extraction of the bronze statue of the slave trader Edward Colston from Bristol Harbour and is dedicated to his victims. Solidarity forever!