Let me enlighten you with this my tale of Brizzle,
Of a city that can crack, pop and sizzle.
There have been times when rizla’s and buildings have blazed a-light,
Where flames of hope and despair have both burned bright.
Queens Square and St Paul’s both erupted with a bang,
Whilst at Harbourside fireworks, church congregations and bus boycott’s we sang.
Hills and money divide Bristol into many enclaves and districts,
Its postcodes separating our health as well as its riches.
I’ve lived and worked along all points of its map,
From Carnival camaraderie to roles in media, kindness pours like cider on tap.
Avonmouth Docks and factories used to give me an honest day’s pay,
I now travel north, south, east and west, through hubs that host motorways.
Up the Portway I once travelled to rebuild my career, south of the river,
Driving through the mighty Avon Gorge and across the Feeder.
I was no angel, but for Black lads Hartcliffe was a place where we feared to tread,
Fear not, the people I met cheered and fed me instead.
Its history from the Wills’ tobacco trade gave me hidden connections,
To unpaid enslaved labour that built the cities revenue collection.
East-side is where I and many migrants first arrived finding shelter,
Safety in numbers, food from our homelands and support structures
Tech and Industrial innovation gave the city lasting legacies and landmarks,
Concorde, Clifton Suspension Bridge, SS Great Britain, plus the zoo is quite a lark!
Look upward for Hot Air Balloons filled with gas high in the sky,
And hum along to great Bristol Sounds as the evening eases by.
Visitors from all corners of the globe, flock to admire our street art,
Whilst vegan delights are feasted upon and kooky fashions pile up in shopping carts.
Our many parks are our treasured green leisure spaces,
But the traffic to watch Rovers’ play can darken fans faces.
We are left of centre, the only place for right-wingers is with a ball at Ashton Gate!
Whilst our pride in our culture boosts the economy our Beacon awaits.
Now the statue that shall not be named has been torn down,
New love for the city can be found.
Merchants today must demonstrate their environmental social justice credentials,
So that many more can realise their potential.
On our accents please remember to roll those Rs. Drive, mind the cycle lanes!
Alright mi babber! Is their essential refrain.
Must pay respects to our city’s unsung heroes, famous daughters and sons,
Too many to mention just visit our libraries, museums or ask our universities Dons!
Post-Covid, I’m confident our future is bright, so now it’s time to rest my bald dome,
And even with our sullied past. This is a place that I’m proud to call home.
Roger Griffith MBE is an author, lecturer at UWE Bristol and a recipient of Bristol Lord Mayor’s Medal.
This poem was written as part of Bristol Museums’ Brizzle Week.
Main photo by Stacie Shelton