Don't Shoot

Part of the commissioned series of poems on race, representation and fashion for Ace Hotel Shoreditch. You can find the full series here

 

       A wrong for our fan base

                                                   A swagger

A not in line with our vision

                                       A wrong face for this side of town

         An, OK, but just one

                                   A seasonal disaster

An ‘act ghetto’

An up to no good

        An accessory

                                         A hoody

      A hold on to your wallet

                                               A siren song

A ‘grab her around the waist’

                                               A ‘put your hands where I can see them’

        A ‘growl to camera’

A hunting

           A once you go Black…

                                      A strange fruit

         A body hard

                                     A body limp

       A sharp focus

A cocked gun

                A skewered light

                            A savage must be contained

A savage must be contained

                                                A frame

An aim

 

                             An unfinished masterpiece

 

Don’t shoot

Don’t shoot

Don’t shoot

Cuppa

Put the kettle on.

I’m not being funny but he’s well fit

no, you don’t understand

they’re all sinking in the Mediterranean sea

I’m actually speaking objectively here

our borders have become dense and long

it’s more an observation really

his face is near symmetrical

and their ships have burst into splints

it’s hypnotising

the sea is bloated with people’s limbs

it’s post attraction really

I’m appreciating him as a work of art

their memories did not make it either

well, of course I wouldn’t say no!

they’re all sinking in the Mediterranean sea

but that’s not the point

anyway, we still going out Friday?

watch how the bubbles float and pop.

Kettle’s boiled.

Before

Before

Before illegal

Before becoming the influx, the scar, the stain

Before finding my new name in a scuffed English novel

Before Jane

Before mastering the sturdy handshake

Before never using it

Before swallowing the lilts of my own tongue

Before forcing my mouth to e-nun-ci-ate                            

Before being misunderstood

Before dreaming of my mother’s songs

Before learning the spirals of British decorum

Before cup of tea, anyone?

Before yearning for a belonging I could name

Before the sound of my laugh began to decay

Before the grope of polyester

Before my prayers mocked me

Before Go Home ricocheted from mouths to vans

Before dreaming of going home

Before each footstep became an apology

Before how destitute exactly?

Before not destitute enough

Before application refused

Before temporary

Before knowing

Before the stain, the scar, the influx

Before illegal

Before

Foreign

We are becoming foreign languages to one another

and the joy you get from kissing me is fading.

So when your lips make out shapes

that say it’s not working

I watch the life we would have had

lose itself like sand in an egg timer.

We have everything we need

Commissioned by the RSA for their Climate Change poetry series

 

We have each become a small world,

spinning from one collision to another.

We scrub cities off our skins

and watch its roads leave tracks in the bath.

 

Damp rises, rent rises, high-rises.

Look how the cities silhouettes grow new forests for us.

What new constellation of stars guides us home?

 

We are tower block light flickers come evening

crammed into shoe boxes, basements,

living room-come-bedrooms.

Stretch out our feet to turn the TV on.

 

Reach out for our phones,

our faces made radiant by its birdsong.

Mining happening somewhere, but we can’t be sure.

We are compassion in 140 characters. 

 

We are lying lonely next to each other

between paper thin walls.

We know our neighbour’s shouts and moans.

She sounds like a redhead, I think.

 

Rent rises, heat rises, sea rises.

Put the kettle on, scald dinner in microwaves.

Droughts happening somewhere, but we can’t be sure.

Tesco Metro fluorescence lives on.

 

I wonder what will this all look like in 50 years’ time.

How will our cities will exhale then?

How will we wear our loss?

How will we sleep when we cannot turn our alarm clocks off?

 

We have each become a small world,

spinning from one collision to another.

 

Our Parents' Children

All immigrants are artists – re-creating your entire life is a form of reinvention on par with the greatest works of literature.

Edwidge Danticat

Theirs was the first gamble.

Hopes stitched into suitcase linings

before being searched at customs.

An airport poster:

We cannot assume responsibility for lost belongings.

Many will not speak of what was lost and found.

How tectonic plates shift the roots of home,

how their cracks give birth to:

border control

the smack of periphery

a dangerous refuge.

They will not speak of this,

of the daily artistry needed to survive,

of how home is hard to grow

on barren ground.

But we carry this journey through our veins.

Their footsteps are woven into our birthmarks;

their struggles, the skin under our nails.

This is our inheritance,

passed down like guilt heirlooms

we carry this through to

the other side of reinvention.

They will not speak of this,

yet we know these truths through

the cracks on the ground we try not to walk on.

They will put their hopes into our hands,

the pain is in letting them go.

HAIKUS FOR THE GENERAL ELECTION 2015

Red, yellow and blue

primary colours collide

This art will not sell

 

Austerity cuts

Those without the knife to hold

Look who bleeds the most

 

‘Britain for the brits’

How many of us should

leave for a ‘fair’ nation?

 

We are deficits

Putting our hopes in ballots

And watching them rot

 

Politicians roar

Over future legacies

You all sound the same