Trinidad and Tobago

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A Crime Rhyme

By Terry Joseph
November 28, 2003

A topic that has been with us for some time
is: What are our police doing about crime?
But what can they do in a lawless domain
where Bagdhad is safer than East Port of Spain?

And we don't even have US forces to blame
although deportees have been named in the game.
But Roy Austin debunked that on Morning Edition,
making easy work of Ken Valley's deduction.

Prime Minister Manning, in one of his jokes,
had earlier assured us that regular folks
had nothing to fear from the wild shooting-binge,
a conclusion that made all good citizens cringe.

Calling gangsters "community leaders" was sad
but to tell us "doh frighten" at least doubly bad.
With innocent people trembling in their boots,
wond'ring who'll be falling when next a punk shoots.

Businessmen threaten to pack up and leave.
Another crime plan up the Government's sleeve:
LEAP, Rapid Response, Anaconda and TIPS.
Solutions, it seems, simply roll off their lips.

Meanwhile, the mayhem taints T&T's image,
death now described as "collateral damage".
Decades of decline, some historians say,
has delivered the mess we experience today.

Now, its not like we didn't have crime in the past.
Some of Boysie Singh's stories could very well last
into the next century and, to add to the pool,
think of Samuel Jacob and The Brothers Poolool.

Gang wars and street-battles caused everyday spats
between men of "Lawbreakers", "Navarrone" and "Silk Hats".
Even prestige-school cliques were then fighting at will
long before the furore about boys from "Tranquil".

"Bad Johns", as Sparrow's calypsoes detail
lived half their lives home, the next part in jail.
Bitterman, Copperhead, Simms-choose a name,
men whose legend would put today's young punks to shame.

But this was pure fist-fight, big-stone and switch-blade,
Today's teenage gunslinger puts that in the shade.
It's no longer a joust between who can't behave,
It's "gimme your cash or start digging your grave".

We're talking of thugs wearing fake police clothes,
pushers and bandits whom everyone knows,
kidnappers and murderers all out running loose
their numbers outstripping those in the caboose.

Mr Manning showed spunk when he fired Chin Lee
and the people reacted with suitable glee.
A petulant Panday, with what now is the norm,
won't talk about crime; only touting reform.

With Christmas approaching, the scenario worsens,
as today's thief respects neither events nor persons
Not even the church enjoys divine protection,
for bandits have stolen from wine to collection.

No one walks our streets at nights anymore,
so don't expect carol singers at your door.
Buy some seasonal-soca, lock yourself in and play
behind burglar bars-that's how things are today.

You can get it from pirates 'cause nobody minds.
They sell in the open, some put up bold signs.
Giulliani came, Rudy spoke and he went,
not a "kn" of effect from the cash Clico spent.

Phone lines sabotaged and no one gets detained
Police say their service is thoroughly strained.
With no sight of appeasement, frustrations abound,
revolt and insurgency's most fertile ground.

Apparently, we've learnt nothing much from our history.
No one seems to recall 1970 and '90.
And although their root-causes were different for sure,
common to both was: "We can't take no more!"

Disparate groups with different agendas
both justified, say their various defenders.
This time, the whole nation rises up as one,
demanding a return to a life that has fun.

We want to have picnics and walks in the park
and not worry the minute the evening grows dark.
We don't have outriders or security teams
like bigshot Ministers who can't hear our screams.

And we do wail, lament, entreat, beg and plead
for someone upon whom we depended to lead
us out of the quagmire and, back to the time
when our lives could proceed unrestricted by crime.

If majority opinion and vox populi reign
Start city by city, take back Port of Spain,
then move out to villages, repeating the plan
until we again have control of our land.

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