Operation Android

I wrote this poem about my generation’s relationship with social media, simultaneously the most connected generation and most antisocial.


what does it take
to show people that being me
is not all that it seems
the tweets, texts and likes
you watch my socials
my rants on race, and the memes
I go against the grain
I say bye bye brain
to keep up this social charade
it’s a pain pretending to be okay
I’m not a person, I’m a thing
Yahoo, Google and Bing

you pay me in kind
I pay you in use
you pay me in anxiety
the stunned logos
of Instagram and Facebook
millions sky high
on reacts and likes
like my neck trapped in a noose

part of the most connected generation
that likes to Netflix and chill
the shrill of android millennials
so connected, but so antisocial
I’m so tired, my life can be shown
in charts, it’s patterned, global
in how I truly feel

Photo Credit: William Iven on Unsplash

if an affliction hasn’t been diagnosed
can I prove that it’s real
my analytics are hegemony
like religions, trial by media
altered millennial minds chemically

in this cyber flu
lives have terms and conditions
that media tycoons provide you
sacrificing real-life conversations
for syntax through a screen
comment threads, conversations
written in emojies and memes
vines posted for millions of hits
Snapchat selfies, Instagram selfies
the young ones call it lit

seeing the world on fire
has put my head into disarray
terrorism streamed to the masses
this is the social media age
I want light, happiness
and I’m not finding it in a screen
I want calm and order

but the truth is
artists need social media just to be seen
the system is a broken machine
where viral content speaks louder than talent

Photo Credit: Joshua Rawson Harris on Unsplash

I’m not a social media addict
but I can feel it numbing my mind
I don’t want to be a drone
but Facebook’s pulling down the blinds
I didn’t want to be lonely
but social media has us in a bind

this thing, I don’t want this
but this is the bane
of the 21st century artist.

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.

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?

New Country, Who Dis?

Inspired by ‘What’d I Miss?’ from Hamilton, I wrote this poem on the thoughts and feelings I had coming back to Britain in July 2016 after a month’s holiday in India.


How did the former-leader of colonisation
take a vote to declare its own independence?
Immigrant-reliant society
no longer a leading authority
made up of people from former-colonies
government in contempt of democracy
Britain’s all washed up, ready to forfeit
everyone knows we’re walking in corsets

there was once a time
when this country set the precedent,
the Brexit experiment
stupid as American decadence
reels of no deals in a one-party system

listen
I went to India
and came back to this,
switched the TV on
to see May’s new cabinet
one-way or no way like IKEA
no idea which way is up
whilst rolling through wheat fields
what Farage envisaged
as Blyton’s Britain
cucumber sandwiches and green fields

Photographer: Jamie Casap on Unsplash

but what awaits The People in this new place?
Farage, Boris and Mogg strawberry-lace faced
and The People respond with what the hell is going on?
we are ready to war for England’s soul
parliament and public in khaki enrolled
government plan is nothing more than authoritarian control

Spent four weeks in India, arrived to Heathrow’s political abyss
and the revelation of closet racists on my news feed
along with UKIP politics, ‘Britain First’ and ‘English Defence League’

What the hell did I miss?
“You’ve been gone a long time” (four weeks)

New country, who dis?