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Alcuin Edwards Alcuin Edwards
Recommendations: 2

The Retail Price of Human Life


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I wrote this after the murder of the child of a family friend in Jamaica. Since then, I've seen his father who still works, driving a taxi every day of the year, and yet has died inside.


About Ten Thousand Jamaican Dollars
Maybe eighty pounds sterling
Or a hundred bucks American green
That, I had cause to discover,
Is the price of a human life


How can I measure so precisely?
I looked in the catalogue
The retail price of the cheapest console
Maybe I'm uncharitable
Maybe it was a more expensive machine
In which case the price of human life is just a little higher.


I remember a little boy of ten
Full of mischief as he sought to centre attention on him
At his big brother's wedding
That was seven years ago
And a lot of blood's flowed under the bridge since then.


About ten thousand Jamaican dollars
The retail price of human life
For eighty quid they'll cut you dead
For a hundred dollars of American green
It can be as if you'd never been


When my wife told me the other day
That he was dead, she deemed a little unsurprised
But today, she heard about the way
He died
And I got to wondering if the tears would ever stop
But they did


When she stopped sobbing, she said
"It was not about drugs or anything
It was his friend, who didn't want to give him back the game he'd borrowed.
The boy mother hold him down
All the people tell Babylon already
They thought him a just t'ump the boy
The boy last words... 'Just imagine, you wan' kill me uvver me own game??!'
The doctor say, 'who kill him meant fi kill'.
Dem stick the the knife in and twist it up fi find him heart
Dem stick the the knife in him back and search out him lights
Dem stick the the knife in him t'roat and twist it up fi find him brain."


"Dem gwa hang she," I told her
And that was the only comfort she wanted right then.


About ten thousand Jamaican dollars
The retail price of human life
For eighty quid they'll cut you dead
For a hundred dollars of American green
It can be as if you'd never been.


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Next: Pain - Part two