The Lady of the Squat

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A re-telling of the original Alfred, Lord Tennyson poem The Lady of Shalott

On either side the river lie
Squats in Hackney and Peckham Rye
That fill the empties under the sky
And through the roads the rats run by
To empties filled by Camelot
And up and down the squatters go
Gazing at empties they know
To find shelter when cold winds blow
To find the dream squat

Pedals turn, hoodies cover,
Adrenaline rushes make you shiver
Sometimes it feels you run forever
In this city by the river
Trying to find a squat
Just four walls and comfy covers
This one has space for flowers
And the square imbowers,
The lady of the Squat

On footpaths, rubbish veiled
Weary workers briskly trailed
To a slow days work unhailed
The one legged pigeon wailed
In the houses of Camelot
And who hath seen her with her band
Or seen her face on newstand
Or is she known in all the land
The lady of the Squat
Only squatters rising early
Coffee held, bearded, bleary
Fix a roof which leaks steadily
Gush of wind makes them wobbily
They look down to Camden lock
And by the moon the squatter weary
Piling bags from bins smelly
And then asking, ‘where’s the fairy?’
To the Lady of the Squat

There she weaves by night and day
Magic words about being gay
Or whatever she must say
A curse is upon her if she stay
With Adhoc or Camelot
She wants to perform poetry
And so she works steadily
And little other care hath she
The Lady of the Squat

Through broken glass it’s clear
How other’s live throughout the year
While in shadows squats appear
Sometimes neighbours sneer
Wishing it was Camelot
Hippies, their heads in whurls
Punks with mohawk churls
And the dyky straight girls
Pass on through the squat

Sometimes a troop of students glad
A wandering Trustfarian lad
Sometimes a chancer, a cad
Or  anarchist, black clothes clad
Are housed by Camelot
And sometimes a window she looks through
To a squat that she once knew
And reminisces about her old crew
The Lady of the Squat
But in her new empty she delights
To make the place have some lights
And there she holds poetry nights
With food, performers, sights
And music in the squat
And when the sun is overhead
Rising early from her bed
I’m half sick of gutters said
The Lady of the Squat

But the Tories think them thieves
Media shows the granny grieves
When the squatter never leaves
The owners say oh please,
Sort it out, Camelot
With the power that they wield
Landlords make squatters yield
With laws to ban them from the field
Drive them from the squat

In the bright lights of the city
Stars keep drinking merrily
Cause they’re all sitting pretty
It’s not depression that they see
Stocks rise in Camelot
It’s no time to be young
The rich want squatters hung
And to their riches they’ve clung
We find a squat

Extreme living in any weather
Till out skin resembles leather
‘We’re all in this together?’
Cameron will you pull the other
It’s a scam that Camelot
And often in the purple night
You find a window not closed tight
And you climb in when out of sight
To find your dream squat
Then come the security rogue
The keyholder with the code
From beneath barricades they’re told
It’s section 6 you can’t erode
Our rights to squat
From Big Ben by the river
Came a law that made us quiver
Fines and a prison dinner
We say squat the lot

She left the squat, she left the room
On TV they heard her boom
That squats allow us to bloom
How could they assume
It’s better with Camelot
On to the web it floated wide
A little bit of her died
The stress is too much she cried
The lady of the squat

The stormy markets were straining
There hung a fog of global warming
The banks had people complaining
That they’d all lost their saving
To towering Camelot
So she donned her media coat
From a free shop left afloat
And proclaimed poems she wrote
The Lady of the Squat
Into the media’s narrow glance
Came her voice inducing trance
We’ll not pay for the extravagance
Of bankers full of arrogance
She shouted down to Camelot
On BBC she had her say
She loosed the chain, replied her way
The mainstream bore her far away
The Lady of the Squat
Saying her poems in the night
Challenging the slippy Right
Some attracted to her light
Other’s want her out of sight
Off the airwaves of Camelot
She kept on speaking all along
People heard her poem, her song
She pointed out her last wrong
The Lady of the Squat

Heard a rhyme, inciteful, funny
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly
Till her passion was frozen slowly
And her dreams were darkened wholly
By the power of Camelot
She’s not in it for the ride
There’s no house by the water-side
Singing songs till her voice died
The Lady of the Squat

Under tower and balcony
By garden-wall and gallery
Just an image she flashed by
Dead inside between houses high
Her silence filled Camelot
Out from Canary Wharf they came
Banker, burglar, Lord and Dame
And by now some knew her name
The Lady of the Squat

Who is she? And why’s she here?
And in the stock exchange near
Died the sound of wealthy cheer
And they insured themselves in fear
The brokers of Camelot
But a reporter mused a little space
He said ‘She has a lovely face’
She spoke to change this place,
The Lady of the Squat.’


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