Today’s poetry assignment is to write a ballad about our nighbourhood. I didn’t use the traditional ballad meter but a slight adaption. I was inspired by “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyles.
Ballad of a Johannesburg Suburb
The moon is a silver sickle, reaping the leaden skies,
The road is a glimmering serpent with streetlight splotchy eyes.
The house is a silent sleeper untroubled by night bird cries
Outside the gate, lie crouching, crouching, crouching,
Outside the gate lie crouching armed men in their black disguise.
They wait for a minute in silence, watching with eyes stretched wide,
Then creep to the gate frame and grab it, two on either side,
They lift it away from the runners and carefully lay it aside,
And the neighbourhood stays sleeping, sleeping, sleeping,
The neighbourhood stays sleeping while they silently slip inside.
The new Mercedes glistens as the movement sensor lights,
The big Rottweiler twitches as the darkness seems more bright
Then he wakes with a start and listens and his nose picks up the fright
He makes no sound but charges, charges, charges,
He makes no sound but charges with his jaws all set to bite.
A shot rings out in the darkness, the panic button’s pressed,
The silent alarm activates and summons the city’s best,
But the dog lies slowly dying with a bullet in his chest.
The flying squad comes screeching, screeching, screeching,
The flying squad comes screeching ready to face the test.
Over the gravel they grapple and grab in the bright headlight,
They tackle two men as they’re running and a third ones’s taken flight,
But the forth man’s taking aim and his gun explodes with light
And the policeman shoots as he’s falling, falling, falling,
The policeman shoots as he’s falling on that fateful August night.
Noise, confusion, panic, the night has seen them all,
Ambulances blaring and sirens sound the call,
And gun smoke lingers cloying, deathlike, like a pall.
The children are all crying, crying, crying
The children are all crying into their mother’s shawl.
They take away the bodies, They take away the men,
They take down all the details with their black unfeeling pen,
That little happy family won’t be the same again.
They always will be fearing, fearing, fearing,
They always will be fearing another night like then.