by Kri Dennett
The Tyburn Tree in Marble Arch marks the spot where witches dropped.
Women hexed by desperate men who hunted them for games and pence.
In 1621, Winchmore Hill, an offering was found;
Elizabeth Sawyer, said to be possessed by Tom the demonic hound.
She refuted the claims and stood her ground.
A strong willed woman who tested man.
For this she paid the ultimate price; first they took her eyes so she could not see, and then they hung her from the Tyburn Tree.
And down the road just by the water another woman was took to slaughter.
For she was cursed with a Devil’s Mark; only it was the same dark spot the man who killed her wore.
Thumb to toe, a swing and throw; will she sink or will she float?
If she sinks she’s innocent and if she’s buoyant she’s a witch.
Either way she will drown, now in the Thames forever a hidden treasure.
South of the river in 2018 a glass land stands; the global hub for the modern day slave where the City hides an early grave.
Sixty hour weeks of sweat, tears and turmoil turn hopes and dreams into fears.
Migrants used to serve the bankers who leave the tip tray dry; greedy wankers.
Out of their seat and on their feet with stomachs as full as their pockets.
Their glutton claims back the price of the lunch, meanwhile their server scrimps and saves for a three-pound Tesco meal deal.
‘Your service was great!’
‘Dziękuje kochanie…oh I’m sorry, you don’t understand? God bless my ignorance for speaking more than one language in this ‘equal’ land. You find treasure in what the Queen speaks, but I find it in my mother’s tongue.’
Said the young proud Pole; an unsung hero who makes Big Ben tick,
for twenty-four-seven beats nine-to-five.
Migrants come to find their treasure, but soon discover its hidden well within; it’s time to escape before the diggers arrive.
Back to Marble Arch it’s the present day.
The crowds pave their way from Baker Street to Trafalgar Square; rainbow flags and Pride tote bags dance in mid-July heat.
Time has turned the throwing of bricks into the throwing of paint powder.
From high above the gold-glittered faces shine; an open treasure chest as
there’s no hiding in Pride.
There’s no more riots or police defence lines, just ‘Love is Love’ tees and ‘Yass Kween’ signs.
Hate doesn’t have the power to last forever, it just moves in phases to another unfortunate mask.
In the way a tortured spirit chases from one body to another.
The pubs, banks, shops and red-top papers all lick their lips as they listen to the march’s raucous sound, but all they see is the power of the pink pound.
The LGBTQ; tomorrows headline and this month’s profit.
It’s a cash in, henny.
But no acceptance or money will ever forget the Soho bomb, chemical castrations, public humiliation, laws of segregation and incarcerations all because of same sex love.
Now the fight begins again for our Trans siblings, just rest assured that love always wins. Queer love.
No longer hidden.
Just a treasure.
It’s the digital makeup era and the city is trying hard to make up by turning tragedies into treasure.
They turn our torture into Halloween tales.
They give us a room in a museum.
But only the smallest one.
They put us on the cover of Time Out.
But only for one day of the year.
To romanticise us is to try and pull the wool over naive eyes.
After all, treasures hidden in heartache are still hidden treasures.
But it’s a little too late.
It’s a culture rape.
And you too can be a treasure in this city.
Just hide your queerness; they only want it for Saturday night entertainment.
Hide your feminism; they only want it in the history books.
Hide your blackness; they only want to stream it.
Hide your eastern culture; the only want to eat it.
Hide it all because they’ll steal your treasure.
It’s appropriation without any appreciation.
And when the time comes your authenticity will be your freedom.
Wear it like a peacock bouquets its feathers.
That’s your treasure in the Western man’s world.
This isn’t Americanisation.
It’s maninisation in the hetero matrix; you’re either on the outside looking in, or you can join the hunt.
Grab a suit, take out a mortgage and chase a marriage; you’re a modern day slave.
You’re vanilla now, baby; but they’ll never take your treasure.
In this city of trends you kneel to the normative or face raised eyebrows.
The city gave me a life but I made lemons of it.
A bitterness to my palate and a lump in my throat.
Living in sour segments of time.
The acid has tarnished my treasure.
When does treasure become a burden?
Is it when the weight of prejudice, death and power latches onto the gold?
We will never be your next poppy field; you will never turn the blood we have lost at the hands of corrupt greed into a tale of sacrifice hidden by the beautiful, innocent life of flowers.
This land tells a tale of those begrudged; witches, slaves and queers.
Their pain romanticised, forced to forgive for a legacy in the classroom, but never forgotten by those who see.
Who really see.
Why must we find our truths through tragedies?
Victims of an adapting space that yearns for peace, equity and equality;
their footprints forever hidden treasures.
Kristian Dennett is Sheffield born and London reborn. He specialises in Queer writing; focusing on screenplays and articles with LGBTQ themes.