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?

The Stranger From The Sea

Recently, I’ve been writing about things that everyday people can relate to and I been neglecting my love for history. So, I decided to write this one. 

I wrote this poem after seeing a post by actress Rosario Dawson (Daredevil) on Twitter. She’s someone I respect very much as an artist, but also as a human being in her online presence (I do not know her myself!). 

And it’s holidays like this that truly show that history is written by the victors. People like Christopher Columbus are celebrated because they happen to be on the right side of history.

To most in America, Thanksgiving means family time and something positive. To the Native Americans, it means something else entirely.

Aside from the subject matter at hand, this poem is based on Widow by Sylvia Plath. She was an American poet, novelist and short storyteller and was married to former-poet laureate Ted Hughes. She only ever wrote one novel, The Bell Jar.

My poem gets its title from the eighth Poldark novel by English author, the late Winston Graham.

In fourteen hundred and ninety-two
Chris Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
The world’s first terrorist.
The name sends shivers…

Christopher. The glorified pirate –
his praises printed in books of history.
A horrible history. Where many stories
lie, not just the blueprints of Empire.

He was the first Final Solution.
Native America’s Auschwitz.
Turkey and white pilgrims.
Genocide – Sadness – Funeral.

Thanksgiving. A bitter spider crawls
down the long table.
Feasting on death and delights.
Lies and deception are its clothes.

Columbus: “this big, vacant land”.
The voice of a coloniser, full of ice.
Where the Natives lived, as did the
Caribs and Arawaks. He didn’t think twice.

I read. The tattooed trees bend in – the
trunk of patriotism. The fluttering leaves.
Strong and sturdy like the crag of Rushmore
or even the stone-chaired Republican in D.C.

Four faces on mountain peak looking at
a free, white, middle-upper spoke.
Not the slaves. Not the Natives. Not the poor.
A graveyard nation, evasive as smoke.

Blind to all, but the bones under the
land, as these united states celebrate.

All Hallows’ Eve

I know it’s a little late but I wrote a seasonal poem about Halloween.

I wrote this poem inspired from a one called Vespers by A. A. Milne. His poem is all about childhood innocence whilst mine is about a walk in through the park taking a turn for the odd and the strange.

Vespers is a poem I found out about in my childhood but it’s one that was brought to my attention again in the film Goodbye Christopher Robin, a film about Milne’s relationship with his son Christopher Robin Milne.

Boys playing ball, beating like a base drum
as bodies move through the air of autumn.
Clangity clang through the hoop it goes
whilst I think in partial poems, not prose.

Gods bless the dogs. I know that’s correct.
Not those school kids looking a bit suspect.
Nothing burns like the cold but there’s a fire on
the ground. Crunching, in orange. Yellow and brown.

If I look at any bin right now forthwith, I can
see hollow cans of Fosters and John Smiths.
Squirrels scale trees and I look to the playground
to see parents with kids, screaming like banshees.

There are bicycles, sounding like a dragonfly’s wings.
Whizzing past you in a nanosecond, their bell ring rings.
Late on an autumn day, in the heat of the night, when
one passes me under the sometimeish moonlight.

I could be kidnapped walking past the lampposts.
This is All Hallows Eve with ghouls, dames and ghosts.
I said I need to get home – this isn’t my business,
as tonight the veil between worlds is at its thinnest.

This university student walks up to his front door,
he fumble for keys with his lovely new paws.
Woah! Woah! Woah! Hang on. Has he been bit?
And he wakes up, sees his mom and says oh shit. 

Old Man In Crisis

When I’m at home, I enjoy the sweet sound of silence. I go home to get away from the world but on Bonfire Night there is no silence to be had. And here in the UK, the fireworks seem to go on until the end of November.  Please stop!

Pop. Pop. Pop.

Looking like sky spiders,
whistling like bombs –
but I just want my peace.

They startle me like
flash bangs, leaving
me in No Man’s Land

and to be honest with
you, it’s not at all quiet
on the Western Front.

Shame Catesby and Fawkes
failed to cut Parliament from
balls to brain because then we

wouldn’t have Bonfire Night.
And then I could read, and
refrain from my old man moans.

I could watch films without
the background noise of what
sounds like a groaning gun.

And that’s what’s inside
my head on the fifth, as I
have lost my peace of mind.