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El Chapo

El Chapo was a criminal, a very nasty bloke.
A dealer in Amphetamines, along with Crack and Coke.
He plied his trade in Mexico, where guns and drugs are rife.
He made a pile of money and enjoyed the wealthy life.

But then one day the cops called round and battered down his door.
They dragged him to the local jail, El Chapo was no more.
They banged him up and told him that he’d ne’er again be free.
But Chapo was a clever man as we’re about to see.

He’d smuggled in a shovel which he hid beneath his bed.
And so, he started digging till his hands were raw and red.
He tunnelled underneath his cell for fifty feet in all.
Then headed horizontally towards the prison wall.

And then he kept on digging with no reason to complain.
The sweat was pouring from his brow, his body wracked with pain.
Until he tunnelled upwards to remove the final sod.
He stood there blinking in the light, then kneeled and prayed to God.

He’d ended up in England where the skies were full of rain.
El Chapo had his freedom with no reason to complain.
But as he got to London Town, he fell among some thugs.
All dealing Coke and Crystal Meth, and other nasty drugs.

For Chapo didn’t understand that London’s streets today,
Are under the control of friends of Ron and Reggie Kray.
He’d read about their methods so he knew he would, for sure,
Be stitched up like a kipper with his head nailed to the floor.

He heard the sound of gunfire and it filled his heart with dread.
He had to get a plane back home, before he wound up dead.
And so, he bought a ticket for his flight to Mexico,
Where he knew he’d be arrested but he knew he’d have to go.

So now El Chapo sits content, his dealing days are done.
The outside world is dangerous and not a lot of fun.
He’s vowed that he will change his ways, and pledged he wouldn’t fail.
His drugging days behind him now, he’s happier in jail.

.

Note: The notorious Kray twins were the perpetrators of organised crime in East London from the late 1950s to 1967

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Jack the Hat

Have you heard of Jack the Hat?
Villain, gangster, dirty rat.
Chose to spend his final days,
In the service of the Krays.

Lord it over Lambeth slums,
Pin-striped cockneys toting guns.
Paid for doing murder jobs,
Jackie gets five hundred sobs.

Banging on the victim’s door,
Voices from an upper floor.
“Why’re you making such a din?”
“Call round later when he’s in.”

Jackie needs to take a drink,
Needs somewhere to sit and fink.
Didn’t do the job today,
Won’t go well with Reggie Kray.

In the ghastly London light,
Pub is closed and bolted tight.
Jackie and the Krays are there,
All they do is stand and stare.

“Do him Reg and do it quick.”
“Pull the trigger,” just a click.
“Do him with a knife instead,
Do him till he ends up dead.”

Later on, the floor gets sluiced,
Hairy blanket is produced.
Wrap old Jackie, nice and tight,
Fling him in the sea tonight.

End of story, that is that,
The sad demise of Jack the Hat.

Note: “sobs” or “sovs” is cockney slang for pounds.

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Jeff Eardley lives in the heart of England near to the Peak District National Park and is a local musician playing guitar, mandolin and piano steeped in the music of America, including the likes of Ry Cooder, Paul Simon, and particularly Hank Williams.


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24 Responses

  1. Peter Hartley

    Jeff – these are utterly brilliant. You show yourself in
    Both poems to be an absolute master of rhythm and meter. Trochaic heptameter, as in number one, I don’t often see, and this is flawlessly executed. Add that to a good narrative and what more could anyone ask for? And the second, reverting to trochaic hexameter, is equally consistent and the story maintains all the interest of the first.

    Reply
  2. Peter Hartley

    Jeff – And they are both exceedingly funny too. You must be a right laugh in your local pub

    Reply
    • Jeff Eardley

      Peter, try reading poetry in my local, and you would find that by the end of the second stanza, you would be chair-lifted out of the door, and dumped unceremoniously in the fast-flowing Caldon canal. I was in the mood for humour myself this morning when I read that we now have a shortage of CO2. Perhaps our poor porkers will revert to being despatched by pick-axe handle. They’ve had it too soft for too long. Thank you for your kind words Peter and best wishes to you.

      Reply
      • Mike Bryant

        Hey Jeff… they pack the crumpets in CO2 also… but the bacon is a real emergency. Oh wait a minute… what about BEER?!?

      • Peter Hartley

        Jeff – I wasn’t thinking for one minute that you read funny POEMS in your local. That would be more suicidal than delivering that treatise of yours on cymbocephalic intracranial aneurisms to a snurd of baboons. Although you’d probably give them a right good laugh too.

  3. Brian Yapko

    Jeff, these are both great fun and great poems. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the American author Damon Runyon, who wrote stories about jovial New York gangsters with amusing monikers similar to “Jack the Hat” in the 1930s and 1940s, but I would describe your work as Runyonesque. I also appreciate the meter — especially in the second poem. But the first poem is my favorite: I smile at the thought of a monster like El Chapo being so terrified of the London underworld that he meekly accepts a lifetime in prison.

    Reply
    • Jeff Eardley

      Brian, thank you so much for your kind remarks and the link to Mr. Runyon. Those gangster names of his are hilarious and only when I read “Nathan Detroit” did I realise the connection to that wonderful 1955 film of “Guys and Dolls” that features the great US creation, the “Crap game,” which is totally incomprehensible to we Brits.

      Reply
  4. Mike Bryant

    I love both of these… they really gallop along beautifully and great storytelling as well.

    Reply
    • Jeff Eardley

      Mike, if you haven’t already, Monty Python’s “Doug and Dinsdale Pirahna” is worth a look. Thanks for your kind comment, and yes, flat beer it must be.

      Reply
  5. Paul Freeman

    Lovely jubbly, Jeff, lovely jubbly, if I might invoke another hardened London villain.

    Loved both of the poems. You might want to watch (if you haven’t) ‘Legend’ with Tom Hardy, where he plays both the Kray twins, a performance I thought should have got him an Oscar nod. There’s a scene with an identity parade (you used to have to tap the person you were identifying on the shoulder in the station car park) where a little old lady is looking up at Ronnie (the most violent of the twins), who’s leaning forward, towering over her, with the most menacing look on his face you could ever imagine.

    Mind you – those were the days!

    Thanks for two great reads, Jeff.

    Reply
    • Jeff Eardley

      Thanks Paul, you are right about “Legend,” a spine-tingling performance from Tom Hardy and the best of the many Kray movies. I well remember their arrest and conviction for the despatch of Jack the Hat. I recall everything seemed to be in monochrome those days.

      Reply
    • Jeff Eardley

      Paul, wasn’t “Lovely Jubbly” more of a likeable rogue than a hardened villain?

      Reply
      • Paul Freeman

        Yeah, I was sort of joking about lovely, jubbly.

        By the way, I think the monochrome view of the Krays empire comes from all those black and white pics of them with celebrities and the famous David Bailey photograph – which was an exceptionally chilling picture.

  6. Margaret Coats

    Two very different (but equally enjoyable) criminal tales. As Peter Hartley commented, the meter in both is quite well done, and helps present each story as unique. But even better are the many entertaining Jeff Eardley subtleties like, “Chose to spend his final days.” Really liked all of them, thanks!

    Reply
  7. Jeff Eardley

    Margaret, thank you. Any comment from you is to be treasured. By the way, whatever happened to the Mamas and Papas? They were brilliant.

    Reply
  8. David Watt

    Jeff, I didn’t have ‘fink’ for long to recognise that these are brilliantly hilarious poems. El Chapo must have come to regret the lead his interview with Sean Penn provided to the authorities. His ego proved greater than the need for caution.
    I understand that the Kray brothers were fond of poetry. In fact, Reggie Kray even penned a love poem from his prison cell in 1990. It just shows that even vicious criminals sometimes offer brighter glimpses.

    Reply
    • Jeff Eardley

      Thanks David, I was unaware of the Sean Penn interview and the Kray poetry (there’s a bestseller if ever there was one) I will catch up on both. These guys should never have the infamy that encourages poetry to be written about them.

      Reply
  9. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Jeff, I simply adore these poems. ‘El Chapo’ had me laughing out loud. I loved the trip down the Kray lane… the film I remember was the one with Martin and Gary Kemp in the roles of Ronnie and Reggie… it should’ve been a musical! The top-notch rhyming skills add to the smoothness and ease of reading these aloud to friends… which I intend to do. Thank you, Jeff… your poetry is going from strength to strength and I am a fan!

    Reply
  10. Jeff Eardley

    Susan, if you can ever make someone’s day, you have just made mine with your most generous comment. It might be a bit before your time, but those cheeky Monty Python boys did a lovely parody featuring Doug and Dinsdale Pirahna and Inspector Harry (Snapper) Organs. Dinsdale is haunted by a giant hedgehog called “Spiny Norman” It’s on YouTube.
    Thank you once more for your constructive comment to so many brilliant poets on these pages. You are a real diamond.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff, I so want to see the Monty Python “Spiny Norman” sketch… I love their humour and would love a link… I’ve tried to search but to no avail.

      Reply

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