Saturday 1 December 2012

Featured Poem for December 2012 by Penny Pepper

The Ballad of Cripplegate

Give me twenty pork chops, ten gallons of ale
Plague will chase us to our death, so come and hear my tale.
We don’t look like the king and queen of this or any land,
But we’re staying and we’re shouting, to sit and take a stand.
There’s deaf, there’s blind, there’s wailers, the war hacked with a crutch
We gather at old Cripplegate for a morsel and nonesuch.
Bold Alice had the pox last year, her face can still make trade,
Prettier ladies with nosegays may give some women’s aid.
Edward entertains the Lords and throws a splendid hobble,
He rolls and shakes those stumps around and turns a dandy wobble.
It’s years away to Bedlam days and now we’ll blame the devil
Rip my clothes, I am possessed, hair alarmed, dishevelled.
Harold rings a begging bell, his leper’s nose unseen
But underneath his wretched shirt, Alice knows what’s keen-o.
By the wall of that old church, it’s all about St Giles
And if you see the pious man we’ll limp away some miles.
The farthings fall quite thick and fast upon the cripples gathered,
Make sure the priest don’t scoop ’em first, they’re always greedy blaggards. 
Soon the law says invalids can’t move along the straight
Yet begging is our given lot so we’ll haunt this bloody gate.
Tempus fugit, time it flies but much it stays the same.
Disabled people’s begging bowls rust with a different name.
Young soldiers lurch to hearth and home, minus limbs and eyes,
Heroes for a paltry day, then fraudsters to despise.
The mental, and the chronic ill, discarded to the gutter
Pull your socks up, you lazy lumps, ministers will utter.
Some wheelies can get sporty, win para medals bold,
But if you can’t move much at all, they wish you dead and cold.
We’re scroungers and we’re spongers the tabloids can berate,
Once again, the circle’s turned, we’re wastrels you can hate.

But let us say we’re merely you and soon the time will come,
Human life has twists and turns – accept this conundrum.
Difference can be difficult in any human state -
But difference brings its own rewards,  accept and celebrate!

© Penny Pepper 2012
(Please do not use without the poet’s permission.

Image courtesey of BBC 4thought
Penny Pepper is a writer, poet and performer with an extraordinary versatility to her work. Her key interests are exploration of difference and diversity, and unpicking the irresistible dark underbelly to life – always with a questioning smile. Genre-defying and quirky, her work is infused with her passion as a veteran inclusive arts activist, including a focus on mainstreaming disability creativity. Find out more at

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