Dan Cullen, Docker

John Seed

 


The Municiple Dwellings

 

DAN CULLEN, DOCKER

London 1903

 

a low-ceilinged hole seven feet by eight
his home one of the Municipal Dwellings
not far from Leman Street

bare floor walls covered with blood
marks of squashed insects
and cheap pictures of Garibaldi Engels

John Burns in his blue reefer suit
and white straw hat
and other labour leaders he knew

his Shakespeare and read
history sociology economics
in the watches of the night

and spoke his mind freely
chosen leader of the fruit porters
fires of the spirit

and after the Great Dock Strike
1889 and every day for years
marked and resolutely disciplined

drilled and starved
and soul harrowed and
broken hearted

feet swollen with dropsy he
sat up on the side of the bed
all day a thin blanket

on his legs an old coat
around his shoulders
penniless demanding his discharge

from Whitechapel Infirmary
though they told him he'd die
on the stairs

alone and finally
gasping for breath
baffled on a pauper's couch

in a charity ward
out of the way the poor
of the earth

hide themselves lonely
together ungrateful
remembered

 

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Contents copyright © 2004 by John Seed

Format copyright © 2004 by Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087.