For Coloured Girls

I wrote this poem for a Women’s History Month event inspired by a play and film called For Coloured Girls, from which it takes its name.

Additionally, it’s inspired from “Everything is Everything” by Lauryn Hill on her album called The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. 


should women of colour
talk of their prophecies
of what women should be
an extension of the he
living in their ideologies
like the Male Gaze
defined by patriarchy

see I think they should live in their own realms mentally
rule their own bodies and own selves independently
free from dependency
liberate their own minds non-linearly
like space, time and astrological lines
zodiac signs in meandering minds
as mine has a sting in the tail that flails like the waves

the women I know are non-linear like the seas
not intoxicated with psychological plastic
not obsolete like some academia, kinda like the Jurassic
built for them in a roar of hypermasculine noise

but then I see some on Instagram
that store insecurity like gigabytes of ram
Snapchat and selfie culture’s peaked
Mac, Chanel, and blushed cheeks
millions of followers, thousands of likes and comments
an internet haystack of memes and shitposting content

misogynoir on Twitter and Facebook
a prejudice against black women based on looks
from Question Time to Prime Minister’s Questions
both have used racism as a tactic of deflection
Afua Hirsch, Diane Abbott and Reni Eddo-Lodge
Amma Asante and Naomi Campbell in a backlog
of anti-feminism from their own people –
the movement that tells the single narrative of she
“the danger of the single story”
well-put and defined by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

black women like graffiti on council buildings
from Cleopatra to Queen Nefertiti
Angela Bassett, Boudicca and General Okoye
Coretta Scott King, Deborah Lacks and Andrea Levy
from Mary Seacole to the Maroons and Nanny

this is where women of colour meet poetry
they always had superpowers
see she turning pain into progress
Maya Angelou, Jill Scott and Angela Davis
Ava DuVernay, Patricia Scotland,
despite obstacles like fragile masculinity
white fragility and repressed black-male sexuality
also Twitter freaks and relentless racists
and sadists that live on timelines like a bad smell
got nothing better to do, let’s face it

Coco Khan, Gwendolyn Brooks
Rosa Parkes, Lauryn Hill,
Thandie Newton and Jameela Jamil
Hattie McDaniel, Viola Davis, Queen Latifah
Regina King, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan
Sandra Oh, Toni Morrison, Constance Yu
in the howl of Weinstein, Spacey and #metoo

The Cobbles

I wrote this poem inspired from ‘Clocking In’ by poet Mitchell Taylor, in which he talks about the mundanity (yes, I made this word up) of retail.


Mom would drop me at The Cobbles
yes, The Cobbles, I went to a private school
a place of high fees and English smiles
and by English smiles I mean colonial rules

I’d be dropped off at The Cobbles each day
these parents scoffed at £10-notes with enthusiasm
as my parents worked their asses off so I had the best
these children had no nouse
of what it was like to be hungry to go without
what happens without their silver-platter path
rugby matches, horses, weekends in New York
lives of decadence and class
but displays of decadence didn’t stay in class

I was dropped off at The Cobbles each day
a full stop against a white background
just sheepishly reciting those Latinate sounds
I was dropped off at The Cobbles each day

even at ten I knew I was a joke
they were staring at me cus I was brown
they were all clones of each other
I’d now call them happy robots, drones
and those five years gave me depression
taught me how to be toxically selfish, alone

but that chapter of my life’s
been swallowed up in the Cold War I fought
but I’m happier now
I don’t go to private school anymore.

Indulgent Carnivore (OR Fats)

I was vegetarian until I was sixteen years old and this is about that. It’s also inspired by ‘Beleaguered Vegan‘ by Dominic Berry.

Once upon a time, I was vegetarian and I think it’s time I went back. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the poem.


I love food, it’s effing bliss
but when I’m out with the relatives
they’re analysing my dish
you know that West Indian mission
like back when I was vegetarian
when I was more egalitarian
meat and two veg (eat healthy) they’d convey
but say yes to Appleton and Old Wray

greens and pastas, no meat for Master Tré
quorn, cheese, Weetabix
whilst they would say
gimme a bite, just a little bit
they acted like they were all dietitians
that’s how they got their kicks
so many Caribbeans have PhDs in nutrition

now, I’m asked
what’s that you got there?
I’ve eaten the flesh of mares
and those meaty pizzas
fantastic beasts and where to find them
cold carcasses of chickens and cows
animals we’re fine putting into our mouths
lamb shank and curry kids. Try Bolognese,
a bacon butty and BBQ ribs

Photo Credit: Lukas Budimaier On Unsplash

but forget about cats, dogs and a horse’s hide
we are British, that would sully our pride
and back then in the ripe old days of 2005
I was too difficult to please
because I wouldn’t eat animal corpses
I would rather bits of kale, crackers and cheese
just not the bones of executions on a platter

I was a child. I wasn’t raised rude
I was just deemed too sensitive to eat dead food
like pigs in blankets and turkey breast
on the Christmas Dinner table
but that is now past, one day, I was tempted
by those Caribbean fables
of fried fish, stewed chicken

yes, I now love meat
but you won’t see me bashing veganism
with hashtags and tweets
as I eat vegan food too, I don’t discriminate
open the hatch, down the shoot
some call me a human dustbin,
and I couldn’t live without
burgers, beers and BBQ chicken
salt fish fritters, breadfruit and chocolate cakes
macaroni, rice and peas and Grandma’s fried bakes

popcorn, roti, and all you can eat buffets on a boat
my gravestone will read death by curry goat
there’s so much food I adore with passion
and I’m not so keen on dessert
but under the covers, right down below
you might find me wrist deep
in a saccharine sweet Black Forest Gateaux

my family were boggled at my choice
but before I was an omnivore, I was a veggie
they thought my food habits were a phase
if a phase was a craze of sixteen years of being kinda edgy

I don’t need to eat meat
but I do, I like it, what I won’t endorse
is torture upon cows, goats
for milk packaged to feed the 7bn
when there’s alternatives like rice and soya
why do we drink other animal’s milk
is this some kinda effed up human paranoia?

Photo Credit: Ja Ma On Unsplash

we do unto people what we do to animals
field beasts supposedly done no harm
people abusing people in FGM and human-trafficking farms
prisoners packed side by side like slaves making our clothes
behind bars rights disposed, brains comatose
systematic abuse industrialised for the masses
to feed us, the working and bourgeois consuming classes

if there really was strength in numbers
the animals would have long rebelled
maybe it’s time I became vegetarian again
and consoled my conscience until the end.

Passage (For Ben-Mark)

As part of my degree, I was required to write an “object” poem, so I decided to write about the cricket ball in my bedroom and its connotations.

I wrote about the ball, but it’s a metaphor for power, oppression and austerity – some of what my family experienced / saw when they came to this country

Cricket was a tool of the British colonisers but my great-grandfather also loved the game, and I like to think I inherited that from him.

I never met him, he died the year before I was born, 1994.


My great-grandfather Edison ‘Ben-Mark’ Noel came to Britain from Grenada in the early 1960s. Under the British Nationality Act (1948), he and his family were British citizens, including my nine year-old grandmother. Every Caribbean migrant that came between 1948 and 1973 were then known as the Windrush Generation, named for the ship of migrants that arrived at Tilbury after the war.

Why did Ben-Mark like cricket so
must be the ball
carmine like Caribbean colours

victorious since 1962
home from home
Gary Sobers and Clive Lloyd

anthems to the West Indian
between the pages of Small Island
bricks from cars like the slower ball

ooooh mustn’t throw stones
yorker, bouncer and googly
tampered leather and broken seams

so why bowl beamers, Amber
Jack’s wind-ripped skin
indelibly etched to foreign fingerprints

My great-grandfather, Edison Noel (known as Ben-Mark)
(Photo Credit: Dean Ventour)

Ben-Mark liked to
slam dominoes and kiss teeth
ya spake strange

he was at home with those
who didn’t talk like the Queen
hard hands and hot-rolled steel

black and white soldiers
in the vice of Thatcher
more strikes than smoke

stumped behind
given the King Midas touch
quack quack to the pavilion

why do I see cricket so
must be the ball
carmine like The Middle Passage.

Immigrant Land

I wrote this poem after ‘The Real Refugee Crisis’ by one of the best poets in Amsterdam, Kevin Groen – who I’ve seen perform a bunch of times.

This poem’s all about my country, Britain, and how the recent “Immigrant Problem” is a walking contradiction when you look at its history. Nonsense.


is the Windrush
men, women and children
‘born from a sugarcane piece’
from colonies under
the whipping whip hand
of Enoch, Winston and Victoria

centuries of
slavery and land exhaustion
wasn’t that enough
and the only way to survive
was to leave paradise behind
bringing vaguely
European-sounding names
to foreign shores
up against uncertainty

thought British identities
aflame in Brixton and Handsworth
left home to find home
to build a society in monochrome
you say immigrant
that just means native anywhere else
but reverse the roles,
“Brits” getting fat in the midst of Spain
they’re just called expats

same thing really
but newspeak smoulders retina
when immigrants
are black rather than white
seeing seas of rejections
like oceans’ belly didn’t profit in times
of slave mutiny and insurrection

the Windrush arrived at Tilbury
gambling their futures with Mother Empire
identities prickly like barbed wire
used and abused labour
corrupted civil rights
no war but the class war people say
No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs
bricks through windows
banana skins on the front porch
nigger, coon, monkey chants, wog

now they’re bored of our complaints
Caribbean grandparents
their children and now the grandchildren
my cousins, my brother and I
look it’s happening again
Brexit, UKIP, DUP
can’t you see how court jester MPs
treat citizens like it’s Ireland, Easter 1916?
like it’s the HUAC in 1955
like it’s Nazi Germany,
Gestapo and the Night of the Long Knives?

immigrant land
is the Windrush
the NHS
the Irish coal miners
those “expats” in America and Canada
the Brit(ish) Royal Family,
as all our ancestors went from
place to place as slaves and traders
also “explorers”, I call them invaders

we occupied your nations and stole your land
ripped children from mothers’ arms
trickled out with our lies thinking nobody
would remember fake wars or genocide

Photo Credit: Matteo Paganelli on Unsplash

Ragnar, Boudicca and Edward the Confessor
I could on and on about our unEnglish ancestors
the African Tudors John Blank and Catalina
we took in Jews fleeing Hitler’s Germany.
we traded in gold with Ghana, held slaves at Elmina
people came from Australia and New Zealand
India, China, America and Botswana…

don’t listen to those politicians who
talk of English England
England meaning land of Angles
meaning land of Norsemen, Germans
so don’t listen to those sermons
from Eton MPs in their long coats
free movement goes way back (1774)
with Ignatius Sancho
the first man of African descent
in Britain, to exercise his right to vote
and now those who came in the 1950s
the 1980s and the 2010s, called
illegal, rapists and criminals, condemned

we never care to think
what immigration is,
like Voldermort and those horcruxes
where you’re from and where you are
compromising bits of your soul,
it’s assimilation on a budget
at the brunt of backward racial theories
identity politics and mind control
there are no immigrants to be found
in Trump’s internment camps
nor on British streets
and it’s starting to feel Dickensian
pollution, poverty and street lamps

Photo Credit: Jordhan Madec on Unsplash

we’re all immigrants
we’re all people
we’re all citizens of the world
defying invisible borders

to be called nice more than nigger
to be called friend more than feared

that Windrush, that all of us together
wish to find home. To truly belong

and really,

who can argue with that?