Calling Citizens Of The World (After ‘The Great Dictator’ By Charlie Chaplin)

So I wrote this poem inspired from a song I co-wrote nearly ten years ago (available on request) at Performing Room in Northampton.

Additionally, this is also inspired from the film The Great Dictator, written and directed by Charlie Chaplin and his speech in that film.

in 2016 my country split in two
48% voted stay the rest to leave the EU
in the wake of Brexit and Windrush
when we moan we’re told to hush hush

workers continue to suffer under the bourgeoisie
saving every coin so they can survive this austerity
men, women and children hurt and alone
many don’t have safe places they can call home

in halls of residence students sweat
whack to the knees crippled under government debt
you know these loan sharks in suits
playing judge, jury and hangman ready to drop the noose

these are images on a news reel
this history we’re living in now is sealed
it’ll be written with photo-shopped pictures
as you know that history’s written by the victors

you can see lies written into faces
discussion puts world leaders through their paces
they tell us what they want us to hear
but critiquing their actions fills their minds with fear

politicians thinking what they think is right
turning people against basic human rights
deporting British citizens and funding wars
street slabs acting as veterans’ floorboards

Photo Credit: T-Chick McClure on Unsplash

Black or White; Christian or Muslim; Gay or Straight
through othered visions the powers that be discriminate
destroying communities, minds and souls
they’re not yours not for corporations to own and control

Northampton, campus incorporated
degrees and education hyper-monetised…
Town Centre – litter-ridden, takeaways and charity shops
in addition to police on the beat and All Saints’ sighs

fake news, false media, forced slave labour
form systems that change narratives and model behaviour
it causes nothing but anger and distress
look at the world in protest and continuous civil unrest

like Goebbels and Lord Kitchener with propaganda
they use words and pictures to play on our anger
like Darth Vader they use the force to enslave us
using false media and stories to garner our trust

peace exists on Earth with the breathing and the living
not with us murdering those who are giving
don’t pollute the world with plastics and aerosols
pollute it with children who dare to be brave and be bold

humanity has been through so much pain
but those who’ve maimed must take responsibility
if they don’t things will never change
fix up and for once take some accountability

we should guide each other
like Indiana Jones in his quest to discover
one race – one people – one destiny
as we scout in pedigree and human history

Photo Credit: Annie Boilin on Unsplash

Citizens of the World, have your say
we’re not pieces in games chess for them to play
party politics’s been casting us in sin
boxing us based on gender, beliefs, race and melanin

those of you preaching what you think is right
turning people against basic human rights
experiences have given me perspective
it’s made me who I am and taught me to live

live in peace and your lives in tranquillity
live in peace and your lives in tranquillity
live in peace and your lives in tranquillity.


“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

London Underground (After Neil Hilborn)

I’ve written this poem preemptively for mental health awareness month, in which I will be performing at Soapbox in Milton Keynes.

This poem was heavily inspired from “OCD” by Neil Hilborn in his book Our Numbered Days and “Flying to Belfast 1977” by Craig Raine.

Craig Raine
(The Guardian)

Fun fact: I hate London. This poem comes from my journey between Euston and Shepherd’s Bush on the Underground last week.

I would not find myself in London unless it was for a good reason, like seeing poet Sabrina Benaim perform live. She was awesome.

NB: The extreme lack of punctuation is making my head go doolally but it’s to show how people who have OCD have a pattern in their own heads.


It was possible to wail
as I found a seat in the carriage;

my cerebral chatter slowed to a boil
snake tails toiling away

when you have OCD peace is a myth
like Perseus and Medusa –

writhing eyes. I squirmed at
the eyelash on the woman’s cheek

and dirty seats. And yesterday’s papers’
ink looking like that July bomb blast

you know like a tattoo
running riot through Covent Garden

the dirty seats
the dirty seats
the dirty seats

in an expanse of claustrophobic noise.
The doors open. I leave

but I notice the exterior
perfect like Elysian Fields

Elysian Fields
Elysian Fields
Elysian Fields

Desire, not Cemetery.
Intricate neat and orderly

I thought of clean white linen
and pristine sheets

folded on my bed
and my A-Z book collection

A to Z
A to Z
A to Z

as I ascend the stairs to the overland
of London Town Armageddon

me, a laughing man
dreaming of empty cities

rather than the cesspits
of sugarcane floors

Dear God Of Mosquitoes (After Mike van Berkum)

I wrote this poem inspired from “Dear God of Hiccups” by Rebeca Mae on Button Poetry. I really enjoyed the whole performance aspect of it.

Also, it sounds like a really salty letter in the way she repeats “Dear God of Hiccups” every so often.  I think that’s really cool.

This poem also derives from my international travels. When I went to  India in June 2016, the local mosquito population decided to pay me a visit.

Moreover, when I went to Amsterdam in February 2018, fellow poet Mike van Berkum performed  his poem  “Mosquito.” It’s all about mozzies  in the tropics.


Dear God of Mosquitoes…

I pray to you now on my knees, waving my white flag of surrender. Please rid my legs of these tiny embers. At least within  the next ten seconds. My shins are inflamed eggshells.

Dear God of Mosquitoes…

I forget how much you burn. How much you itch, punishing me in these fast seconds, more holy than the woes after the Last Supper. I slap at you with the anger of grinding tectonic plates. I watch you leave, cackling like hyenas in the Pridelands. Then you return for some more. Gotcha!

Dear God of Mosquitoes…

I feel you whilst I sleep. All the air in my body is just blood to you. My skin is sandpaper when you’re around. I know this is you saying hello to this outlander.

And one day you will say goodbye. One day is the last day for anything. The first day you bit me. The first day you get caught in my swatter. The last day you lived to tell your friends about this foreign feast.

Dear God of Mosquitoes…

How perfectly annoying you are and you don’t even notice. I catch you in my hands. I talk at you about English winters. I tell you about wind, showers and January snowfall. You die at the thought.

Dear God of Mosquitoes…

I eulogise the future. It’s these last moments that are so brief, like you God of Mosquitoes; like you mighty mozzie; like you Pan and Gaea; mother earth partying in my soul or sending those bitches to break my skin.

It’s these last days that are important – in conversation with gods and monsters, like those Hyderabadi statues down the street. I’m sorry I killed you Mosquito. And a bunch of your brethren too. But you bit me in the ass.

Karma.

The last time I say Mosquito out loud it rolls off my tongue – easily like the whoosh of my hand when they land on my skin in the night. Bam! Dead. I don’t even feel bad.

Dear God of Mosquitoes…

Forgive this foreigner. I’m no killer. Just don’t bite me. Thank you for your hospitality. Thank you for welcoming me to India. Thank you for reminding me to appreciate peace when you are gone.

Good riddance.

Alicante General, 2004

I wrote this poem about the time I had a crater in my leg and was required to have stitches (in Spain).

When we’re children we often think we’re invincible. I thought I was Spider-Man. In one moment I was climbing fences, and in the next I was on an operating table having the two sides of the crater sewn together like I was Frankenstein’s monster. I have the scar to prove it.

This is a memory poem and every time I look at the scar on my left shin, it’s a reminder of that childhood innocence and how we should all respect our own mortality, even as children when we think we can do anything.


The only things I brought home from Spain
were six stitches and a
sewn shin like a Cornish pasty.

I was younger than noon,
on the operating table.
My stomach was a pendulum.

When I see needle and thread,
I remember the torture chamber
and the man in white.

Last summer, I saw a hospital –
not the hospital but my knees gonged
like church bells all the same.

I still have the reminder,
shin like patched clothing.
And now,

thirteen summers have passed;
thirteen summers in the smoke
of towns and cities.

India, 2016: A Retrospective Afterthought

I wrote this poem based on my time in India in the summer of 2016. Olivia Gatwood’s ‘The Only Thing I Brought Home From America’ from her book New American Best Friend is one of the poems that inspired it.

Olivia Gatwood is one of the most recognisable young poets in the United States. In her book she deconstructs traditional stereotypes in topic areas such as: childhood, sexuality and gender to name a few.

Furthermore, she writes about things that society tells us we should be ashamed of, through odes to the body and strong women to name a couple. I must say that seeing them performed is more satisfying than reading them.

New American Best Friend is one of the must-reads for the young people of today (millennials), truly. Whether you’re a poet, prose writer or our everyday Joe Bloggs, read this book.


The only things I brought from Britain
were a box of PG Tips
and an Assassin’s Creed T-shirt for Rafi.
On the dry days,
we power slide on bikes,
like we’re in Mario Kart –
Rainbow Road, not Desert Hills.

The locals are shocked that I am black
and not African, but British and not white or rich.
This subverts their stereotype, changing
everything they’ve learned in the
former-church of Victoria, where they
were taught that life was better with a master.

But now they rule themselves –
with bureaucracy, like the British before them.
Curry and corruption is the underbelly,
but Hyderabad lay hungry in the
setting sun. The West ate their bellies full,
with the Industrial Revolution
stacking states like long multiplication.

Photo by: Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

“Darkies aren’t good” a light-skinned man
says… in 1948 and 1988 and 2016.
But this doesn’t apply to me, surely
because I’m British, right?
Always guarding my wicket,
ready to hit off-break and seam
down the ground.

In India I was among friends too –
where caste and creed were an afterthought.
Though, Real Madrid was their anthem
as the wicket was mine, or was the anthem
the 4am calls to break the Ramadan fast?

When I tell the family of my atheism
the penny drops –
I’m not female; I don’t wear a hijab,
but I high jabbed the establishment.
(Like saying no to David Bowie in Britain)
Oh no, the sacred texts!

Photo by: Loubna Benamer on Unsplash

We sit for dinner, the whole family,
much alike my own. I sit there,
pretending to be British,
with my RP accent but I think about my
immigrant grandparents. Grenadian-born –
French surname – Ventour –

and I think about my other grandparents,
Jamaican-born – Welsh surname – Griffiths.
But I know, no matter how many times
I speak of the UK, my home,
I think of Fanon’s Black Skin White Masks
like having a British passport makes you British.

Rafi says “I am lucky” and I am,
but I think he is lucky –
to live in a country that still values family dinners
and the art of conversation (somewhat).
The young ones speak in English
and their grandparents speak in Urdu or Hindi.
The millennials respect the elders.
They call them aunt and uncle, even the strangers.

Photo by: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The young people love football.
Cricket, not so much. They call it boring,
and I know this is the wrong answer.
Cricket is the game of my ancestors.
I am West Indian and British and rich
and poor and a slave and a colonist…

and when it comes down to it,
we’re remnants of our ancestors –
who went from place to place,
men and women who didn’t all wear crowns.
But were more simply –
working people, slaves and peasants.