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An East End Tragedy
Jon Smyth

The sky’s above the Shadwell docks glow red from fires bright,
smoke & ashes fill the air. ......a foreboding August night.
An through the darkened narrow streets, the destitute call home,
a helpless woman staggers by, ....but Polly’s not alone.

A figure from the shadows, stepping forward, never heard,
a calm approach, a simple smile, he barely spoke a word.
Too drunk to sense the danger now, or realize her plight,
she’s feeling something ‘round her throat, something choking, ...tight.

A struggle in the darkness, not a witness to be found,
she stumbles losing consiousness, he pulls her to the ground.
He left her laid upon the street, with eyes still open wide,
her throat was cut from ear to ear, her stomach ripped inside.

But someone’s coming, there’s no time, he puts the knife away,
and slips in to the shadows, he’ll be back another day.
Polly lay there motionless, and bleeding near to death,
her fingers twitching, senses fading, gasping one last breath.

From pain and shock and terror of a body gripped in fear,
her heartbeat fades, and in her eye ....a solitary tear.
The cobbled streets are quiet now, a stillness fills the air,
her lifeblood slowly drains away, does anybody care.

A week has passed and people still do talk about that night,
and Annie Chapman walks the streets till early morning light.
Then takes a stranger to the yard, like many times gone past,
but this time Annie won’t return, this time will be her last.

A next door neighbour heard a voice and then a muffled sound,
and not long after someone found poor Annie on the ground.
The sight that met that old mans eyes will stay for all his life,
the poor ‘ol gal had been attacked and butchered with a knife.

Three weeks later Catharine Eddowes stumbles on the street,
a Policeman comes and helps to get poor Catharine to her feet.
She spends the night at Bishopsgate, released at 1 o’clock,
to PC Hutt she waves and says, “All right, good night old cock”.

With that she disappeared into the cool September air,
but someone said they saw her with a man near Mitre Square.
If she’d have known who she was with I’m sure she would have run,
‘Cause what he’d do to Catharine only Satan could have done.

She was not the only one to die this evil night,
another poor unfortunate was murdered in a fight.
Assaulted down in Berner Street, she soon forfeit her life,
Murdered by a madman who had slashed her with a knife.

Panic swept the streets and people filled with fear and dread,
citizens in groups patrol the lonely streets they tread.
No-one dares go out at night except in two’s or three,
for fear of Jack the Ripper, maybe next is you or me.

Vigilantes watch the darkened streets and thoroughfares,
Detectives watch the vigilantes, searching here and there.
Police are watching everyone who moves about at night,
following each other, street by street, till morning light.

The chaos lasts about six weeks and fears begin to wain,
then people have more confidence and venture out again.
The Lord Mayor’s show is in the morn. the terror’s gone, ....they thought,
but something evil stirs this night at 13 Millers Court.

An Irish lass was seen out with a dandy looking guy,
but was this guy the Ripper, ....did he make Mary ‘cry’.
We only judge by what he done this guy must be insane,
a bloody mess is all that’s left of poor ‘ol Mary Jane.

Bloody sheets and body parts and organs all around,
her features gone, her heart removed and it was never found.
The pool of blood upon the floor, the smears around the wall,
descriptions are just not enough, mere words can’t tell it all.

He may have wrote the press and tried to brag about his crimes,
with clues and jokes and challenges and funny little rhymes.
The games are done, the Rippers won, he never came no more,
and who he was and where he’s gone, we never knew for sure.

In memory of the victims - rest in peace.