This is another one of the poems I wrote as a practice for a workshop on my Creative Writing degree under the designated theme of fire, and it’s based on Fire Season by James Galvin.
He is an American poet and novelist from the state of Illinois, born in Chicago. Much of his work is centred around the realities of the American West.
The Caribbean batsmen are on fire,
burning brazen like Satan’s eyebrows.
Assumingly, the English are still bowling, slinging
Molotov cocktails at them from twenty-odd
yards away. Fine, this isn’t the
Bay of Pigs but the islanders are in the
smokescreen of a big bad superpower.
You got me, I lied.
There are no Molotovs or superpowers.
Perhaps it’s the look of the ball,
appearing like a shuttle burning up on re-entry
or is it the subtle scorch marks on their helmets?
There’s an orange ring around the pitch.
They call it a boundary, and there’s a pavilion
with a bar not far away with a dragon inside.
But that’s beside the point as batsmen
beat the embers back, real hot.
Bowlers scorch the hallowed turf.
Stumps turn to ashes, and
actually, there are no embers or
scorch marks. Just flashes of brilliance
and the smoke from the barbeque.
This is one of the poems I wrote as a practice for a workshop on my Creative Writing degree under the designated theme of fire, and it’s based on Burning the Old Year by Naomi Shihab Nye.
Nye is an American poet of Palestinian and German-Swiss descent. She spent her teenage years in Jerusalem and San Antonio (Texas). Her experiences in growing up in a dual-nationality and dual-culture family has influenced much of her work.
Old messages down the internet haystack:
one-letter replies and niche emojies,
like you’re some kinda millennial
but you were born in 1972.
You threw lots into the flames,
your disease for starters –
when Scleroderma reared its head,
a blue snaking fire of ten years.
You were there and then you weren’t.
No more family stories, no more jokes,
only the ambient sound of the poker.
I wrote this poem after after watching Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit, a film about the Detroit Riots and what occurred at the Algiers Hotel in July 1967.
The poem’s style is based on Testimony by Seamus Heaney, an Irish poet who gained influence during the second half of the twentieth century, winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995.
The building was silent before the
A Tuesday evening, darkness,
and gutter blood dancing
inside the hotel.
From the next street,
you’d have heard the screaming
and heard it stop and had view of the
military with their guns and tanks
coming down the road.
Lines of them, firearms loosed from their holsters,
ready to pounce on their prey like the big cats
of the African plains.
A line of dominoes facing the wall, petrified
young people, kids, playing the police’s
Three dead black men, seven more beaten,
and two white women.
Unarmed, innocent. 25th July 1967.
Not that they knew then how history
would record that day as the victims
took the stand: in a sweat,
skittish, nervous. Families bereft.
Killer cops, not guilty (typically).
They always protect their own, and
Krauss free to roam the streets again
with his eyebrows of Satan.
I have two titles for this poem: the first is taken from a line in Sidney Lumet’s Network (1976) and the second is an excerpt from a longer quote from William Shakespeare’s King Lear.
Is any of this real? Look at this
fantasy. We have synthetic
emotions as pills that spur on
The mind is assaulted through advertising.
Chemicals melt our brains through food.
Mind-numbing lectures as media that
tap into our thoughts through Facebook.
Reality is gone. Whilst munching on GMOs
we became plagued with warfare and foes.
We turned off the power and removed the batteries,
as we went to work in internet factories.
We bought into the corrupt like FIFA and Amazon
and Apple with their methods (at least morally).
There’s something shady going down!
All built on the blinking numbers sprawling
through the serpentine woods of Wall Street Town.
I hate all the contrived facades and ludicrous lies,
like how the masses glorify Steve Jobs a good man
as he made billions off the backs of children
in far off lands I can’t even pronounce.
Our idols are simulations. Earth itself is a lie, a hoax!
A narration of rubbish disguised as insight, as Facebook
claims our thoughts and likes, while Twitter wizard
Trump tauntingly tweets Korea’s Kim on a daily.
We’re in this culture of junk, due to our
unwavering favour of the question, “how much?”
All over human welfare, and then we had the
Chilcot Inquiry’s affair with Tony Blair.
We all know why we have opted for this life.
We like living in denial, putting others on trial,
under the sedation of newspeak, living in this
Orwellian reality. And Big Brother is watching!
This is a kingdom we’ve lived in for far too long.
It’s ridiculous, selfish, ghastly and wrong.
A comedy of errors and as I read this
in high street-bought clothes,
I’m as real as the 100% Beef meat at Maccies.
I wrote this poem specifically for a performance at Northants Black History Association. Focusing on local history, I decided to write a poem about Walter Tull.
Walter Tull was a footballer who played for Tottenham Hospurs and Northampton Cobblers. He was also a soldier during The First World War, being the first Black British-born man to reach the rank of officer in the British Army. His father was from Barbados and his mother was a Kentish white woman. Tull’s grandfather was a slave and Walter was killed in 1918.
My poem, Walter, is based on Mulatto by American poet Langston Hughes and on Checking Out Me History by John Agard. Both poets are known for critiquing and discussing racial politics and culture in their work.
I am like you white man, British!
in a graveyard nation.
“You’re not British.
Just a yellow bastard!” Like Hell!
Walter Tull. His grandfather, a slave. His father, black, his mother, white footballer turned soldier in Footballer’s Battalion and first Black British-born man to lead white men to fight in battle.
White moon over No Man’s Land.
French frosty night,
full of stars,
massive yellow stars.
What’s war but a game?
Bodies of flesh
White, blue, brown and black
men blown to bits.
The scent of rotting flesh stings the night air.
“Who are your parents?” a voice asks.
And there Walter lingers in his mixed-race mask.
Another yellow sunrise.
Half of a yellow sun
and his comrades drop one by one.
From Barbados, his father travelled far and Walter to war. He volunteered to go, trading football for France’s bombs, bullets and bayonets.
The French sky is full of stars.
Massive yellow stars as light as
the dawn, showing these white
men he was no pawn.
To them he was nothing but a toy.
A yellow bastard boy.
He went out into the night, showed
the English how to fight.
Walter, forward-thinking black man of big ambitions moving boulders over white river rapids to freedom street.
And when he died in Spring 1918,
stars were seen dancing through the air.
A British night,
a British joy.
I am British white man!
Yes, a man, not a bastard boy.