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
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?
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.
I wrote ” Air Too Pure For Slaves” in response to a poem called “Make a Desert” by Milton Keynes poet Mossman. You’ll find it below.
Make a desert and call it peace.
Wipe out the people and call it an empty land.
Making; by your empires, a bigger better world.
Explore with your weapons and your diseases.
Justifying actions through an empty God.
Making; by your empires, a richer poorer world.
Seeking a free, but not a fairer trade.
Shipping home the spoils from lands despoiled.
Oppressing the foes you made.
Then in your decline,
In your victorious inaction and withdrawal,
Let the others sort the mess of their own making.
Whilst you bank the cash of sugar, slaves, munitions and oil.
Put up the statues to the glorious heroes
And their guilty municipal munificence.
Pull up the drawbridges now against free movement of those others,
Fleeing your manmade deserts
Across cruel seas, hoping only for safe haven.
The lucky finding only the torment of camps and barbs,
Freedom and life the only losers.
I wrote “Air Too Pure For Slaves” inspired from Mossman’s poem. The title for mine comes from a chapter from a book called Black and British: A Forgotten History by British-Nigerian historian David Olusoga.
“Air Too Pure Slaves” is a poem in which I draw reference from Europe’s colonial past and show how the immigrants of the past helped make the continent into what it is today.
Immigration is not a new thing, it’s naive to pretend otherwise. Despite being a mass importation of illegal workers, The Transatlantic Slave Trade is a good example. People have been moving from place to place as long as people have been alive.
Build a country and exclude the labourers.
Chain the workers and bask in the profits.
With the world seemingly getting worse and worse, I decided to write this poem. I wrote this poem inspired from “Ode to My Bitch Face” by Olivia Gatwood.
You market mongrel,
hardnosed logo. Pursed-lipped,
free-handed, malicious money man.
You’re a chip on my shoulder.
You’re Woolworths gone broke.
You sidestep orphans on Park Lane.
You strainer of single moms.
You’re a fat cat’s laugh.
Capitalism, they call you
but there’s nothing free about you,
free like students who run home
to their moms when you break their legs –
knees crushed under the heavy boots
of Winston and Elizabeth
as bottles pop and bubbles fizz.
Postgrads want to buy a house.
Thirty-somethings want to start a family.
And then you smile, like Botox
as coins chisel cheekbones.
Medusa looks into our souls –
stone-cold corporate stares.
One idea is that we’re born this way
but our existence predates these looks.
We came out kicking,
and see how we’ve learned to spend.
what’s wrong with you Capitalism, what’s wrong with you?
Maybe we really were born with the Midas touch,
turning everything to gold with a poke.
But I don’t believe that, not for second –
that we woke up like this
and have been like this for generations.
How can we rest well
when health is a multibillion-pound industry
and the entrance to a hospital feels like HSBC?
The World’s Local Bank
They will tell you money is safety.
They will tell you finance is security.
Capitalism is a burning ladder.
Capitalism, I don’t blame you for
bringing the sword. I blame us for
putting it into position.
This is a poem that I wrote in my head in November and only articulated it onto paper two weeks ago.
I came into contact with “Howl” years ago but I only recently engaged with it personally last January, not long after starting university.
Allen Ginsberg is one of the figures of The Beat Generation, along with Jack Kerouac (On The Road) and Ken Kesey (One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest).
In short, “Howl” is a declaration of personal experiences with religion, sex, drugs and society’s absurdities. Part I is about individual cases.
Part II talks about the Moloch of society, which represses feelings and forces the victim to declare themselves mad if they do not suppress the said emotions.
Part III is a proclamation of sympathy with Carl Solomon (he’s in an asylum). In that last part, Ginserg is standing in solidarity with his imprisoned friend, extending his hand in friendship. This is an act of emotion in the poem, an idea that society seems to be subjugate.
In this act of rebellion, Ginsberg is embodying an anti-establishment attitude, thus sticking it to The Man, to put it bluntly.
“Watershed” was written as a stark contrast to “Ode to the Millennial Generation” and a modern rewrite of parts one and two of “Howl”. The title comes from that time after 9pm on television when all the darker / morally-ambiguous shows arrive on air.
I saw the greatest people of my youth destroyed by society – pure, naked, rancour; hauling themselves through the streets in the midsummer looking for something to do,
music-headed millennials listening to the sounds of Paul Weller and Bob Marley looking for a connection to their parents’ generation,
the people who plodded through poverty and sat up smoking seeing the supernatural silhouettes of spectres floating across canopies of towns and cities in an existential crisis.
These are the millennials who bared their knuckles to Snapchat and Twitter, hash-tagging their way through Wikileaks and Edward Snowden,
who passed through university swimming from the loan shark – dead eyes hallucinating like seeing giant chickens on the streets of Amsterdam,
those who cowered in cubicles making memes with nooses to hide their depression –
today’s kids who advertise their beards and long hair like Gandalf posing on the cover of Vogue.
They’re confused, like fish seeing land for the very first time, along with dreams, drugs and disillusionment. Walking nightmares, alcohol and one night stands that turn into functional relationships
on the blind avenues of a sporadic cloud and thunder in the landscapes of Bangkok and Melbourne, illuminating the rude awakening of real life.
Rookie soldiers of the twenty-ones to thirty-fours, responsibility and family life dawns while wine drunkenness catches their eye –
joyriding and jaywalking with no care, sun and moon and nature’s touch in the season of orange in Central Park, as poets and actors preach in the streets,
as feminists protest like Civil Rights activists marching from Selma to Montgomery under the threat of dog’s teeth and tear gas and police chants and horses and riot shields and batons and the legacy of Jim Crow,
and the millennials would yawp and whisper war stories about when they’d been arrested and on which march – the shocks of A & E, jail and combat – whole minds deteriorating in a seven-day layover with prison food, like vomit from concentrate,
those who disappeared into the cracks of Birmingham. Broad Street and New Street, leaving a trail of blood to the Rep Theatre,
watching poverty run riot by the riverside restaurants, as the homeless wander asking for change so they can live another day.
The millennials who jump in taxis to go two minutes down a road, those who lay hungry and broke in cafés talking about literature,
and those conversations disappeared into the tattooed trees on the table and into the local narratives and told tales of Northampton, Bedford and Cambridge,
and further still – into the West Country of Devon, Dorset and Somerset, places that investigate newcomers and make you forget city life and its liquid lunches,
inflicting scorch marks on the anticlimactic nature of capitalism in The West – places where police create more black stars than Hollywood,
millennials who broke down in jail cells and wailed like sirens when they just happened to be wearing a hoody in a white neighbourhood –
who were raped by those who preyed on low self-esteem, taken advantage of like the slaves who worked the plantations in Mississippi and Morant Bay.
But the millennials went on partying through Manchester and Liverpool – a juxtaposition to the legacy of slavery. Myriads of slaves at auctions who stood all day with bloody feet.
My generation who watch Black Mirror and Westworld as Theresa May perfects the art of crashing the NHS,
the young people who read romance novels in Costa whilst plugged into bad music, who sit depressed under their own storm cloud,
who had suicidal thoughts in school and were told to get over it – like depression and anxiety were no different to burning your hand on the grill.
The generation that murmur all night, scribbling incantations on how to be happy in blank verse, who watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower like it was the story of their lives,
who cut their wrists at breakfast, lunch and dinner and were forced to open nostalgia shops when they failed, who hanged themselves in their bedrooms and were forgotten.
The people who sang in Warsaw and retired to their beds… forever to tend their war wounds like it was 1st October 1939 all over again,
who were given daggers for their “ums” and spears for their “likes” and electroshock therapy to cure their anxiety of the tomorrow.
Camden Town and Oxford arguing on how to talk and how to live, tongues wagging from midday to midnight,
and those who dreamt up stories on the bus in long sentences, trapping the metaphors and similes with semicolons and subordinate clauses,
who boobie-trapped the verbs and nouns with dashes and commas in long sentences like Oscar Wilde.
And in the spirit of jazz in New Orleans, saxophone’s cry across the water with the tears of a thousand years of blissful adolescence, and are good to grow one thousand years more.
What foul creature carved out their souls and imagination?
Society – isolation – independent loneliness and inflation. Young people screaming in their homes. Children caressed by Hollywood divinities.
Poverty sleeping in the parks. Society! Society! The nightmare of society. Loveless in its mutilated Marxism, the brutal judger of broken people.
Society, the unimaginable jail. Society, the black dog walking through the graveyard. Society with its logos of judgement and stunned governments,
whose minds are machinery; whose blood is money; whose fingers are on the nuclear codes; whose torso is a bonfire of the youth; whose souls are stocks and shares.
Society where people sit alone, scared of their own faces. Society with its containment culture and cookie-cutter flats and invisible poverty lines and fake wars –
visions, symbols and miracles down the Thames. Dreams and aspirations gone with a whole truckload of toxic political correctness and fragile masculinity.
A storm. Epiphanies, politics and religions gone as the boat flips. Despair! Years of suicides and crazy crucifixions into a haze of holy yells.
I wrote this poem / monologue in March 2017 and it started as a response to Netflix’s The Crown (my favourite show of 2016). As I wrote on, the poem / monologue became a wild creature.
#FakeNews is a critique of power and corruption, and in a sense, an ironic afterthought of the Chilcot Enquiry, The Death of David Rockefeller, The Panama Leaks, and the sociopolitical quake of 2017. It’s a discussion about humanity itself, as our history is a bleak one.
However, the poem is inspired from Charlie Chaplin’s famous monologue from the 1940 film The Great Dictator. The updated version is below. I think that video with the montage of images is more applicable since what Chaplin is saying in that film can be applied to the world today.
The Crown is a ruck of busy bodies, necks
crooked with materialism: wrecked by
power-driven minds, kindness in rewind.
I’d like to help everyone – man, woman,
black man – white. We live by people’s
happiness, not sadness – there’s room for
everyone, a lifestyle free from fights for
love and the Earth’s fruits, but we have lost
the way, allotting numbers to our worth.
Greed has tainted our souls, in jails controlled
by hate, knock-kneed in civil unrest and
warfare. We drive fast cars but our minds
minds minds, are behind bars.
The internet provokes cynicism – with wired
attire like Xavier’s Cerebro: life is violent,
lost to technology – things that bring out
humanity’s resourcefulness, victims of a
system that tortures – Rothschild
Murdoch, Rockefeller: families who thrive
on public chaos, fear of human progress.
Puppeteers die, and power will return to
the people – liberty will never perish…
Ha, that’s wishful thinking: Dulce –
No – Decorum – No – Pro patria mori.
The Man despises us, and thus oppression
continues to condition us like cattle with
machine minds and machine hearts.
No, we are people with love in our souls:
only the unloved hate – Power To The People!
Make it free and beautiful.
A brave new world, no Winston Smith, no
Big Brother – a chance to build something
good together – a gateway to fight back
against corporate oversight, as dictators
handcuff brains to corporations.
Do away with invisible borders and greed –
fight for a world of reason.
In the name of democracy, I can drink to that.