Air Too Pure For Slaves (After Mossman)

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.

Photographer: Foad Manghouly

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.

Photographer: Clem Onojeghuo

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.

#mossman2016


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.

Put them in a box, and send them to Sierra Leone.

Explore with your guns and man-made diseases,
justifying your actions through law and order,

making a nation of millionaires, a poorer richer land.

Photographer: NeONBRAND

Mother seeking the help of unfair trade,
the grains of Demerara, the threads of Virginia –
Cotton is king; there’s mercy in a massacre.

In Berlin, you agree to raid the The Savage Lands,
or so you named them. We are a Coloured Empire,
children slaving with bloody hands.

Then in your decline,
when you couldn’t maintain your greed,

you left the natives in a swamp of your making.
Whilst you mined money –
the spoils of sugar, munitions and oil.

Erect the statues to colonial knaves,
like Winston and Victoria.

Photographer: Trisha Downing

London streets, air too pure for slaves,
dwelling in your man-made deserts.
Now closing the door on their descendants –

leaving the vast expanse between
The Bulldog, the Dark Continent and Jim Crow.

The lucky find peace, abandoning
ship. Chains cackling with the
notion that death is better than bondage.

John Doe (After Mossman)

I wrote “John Doe” in response to “Underpass Girl” by a Milton Keynes poet called Mossman. His poem is about homelessness in Milton Keynes in England.

Anyone who has been there will know that it’s rampant. Outside the train station has its own homeless population and that’s just for starters.


Underpass Girl

An underpass girl in an overpass world
Under road dry tented
Lost, cold, just growing old
Still discontented.

All my Fridays black
With no hot offers free,
Whilst the overpass world is bought and sold
No-one to buy two and give one to me.

Who is it that judged?
I’ve not been good enough
To join the Christmas sack race
And that I should hide my face.

Photographer: Clem Onojeghuo

First on my list is to;
Pass under into
A warm bed space
Sit at a table’s saving grace.

Not on my list; is sleeping rough
Hoping for another pass-me-down pasty
Sipping all day
On my one suspended coffee.

Waiting for night’s chill
On this cold eve as you pass over
Spare some change Sir,
For those under still.

#mossmanpoet 2017


This next poem is mine. Whilst Mossman’s is about Milton Keynes homelessness, mine is about homelessness in my local area, Northampton.

In recent years, Northampton Town Centre has grown, not only with people coming in from the outside but poverty and homelessness as well.


John Doe

He perches near TSB,
under shop shelter dry tented.
Hungry, tired – plodding through
each day, still discontented.

Mr Doe walks from the long
long street,to the one with
all the cafés, as we all drift by
on repeat every day.

Who are they to judge me?
My house is a rolled sleeping bag.
Just the snakes of this Jerusalem
where morality is bought and sold.

Photographer: Matt Collamer

It’s 9am. First thing to do today
is to find a spot for tonight
where can sleep in peace,
without the threat of the police.

Not on my agenda is death.
acquire handouts,
of: pasties and hot drinks
but I can feel myself sinking.

I’m John Doe, a mask:
an overpass man in an
underpass land falling
through the cracks,

but I don’t believe them.