Maggie: A Girl Of The Streets

I mentioned in my bio that popular culture plays an important role in my life. However, it’s found its way into my poetry too, as some of my poems are inspired from films and television shows. This poem is inspired from I, Daniel Blake, a film about the working class living under the welfare state and how bad things can happen to good people.

I named this poem Maggie: A Girl of the Streets after the Crane novella of the same name. I enjoyed reading that during my American Literature module last year and it holds similar themes to I, Daniel Blake.

In 2014, to commemorate a century since the beginning of World War I, Channel 4 hired British actors to read a number of British war poems. This included Christopher Eccleston who read Testimony (Seamus Heaney) which I posted on The People v. Michigan State. 

During the summer of 2017, I tasked myself to write a response poem to each of the war poems on Channel 4’s line up. Maggie: A Girl of the Streets  is in response to The Arms and the Boy by Wilfred Owen and it’s read by Gemma Arterton.


Wilfred Owen was an English poet and soldier during The First World War. Whilst in a hospital in Scotland in 1917, he met one of his literary heroes Siegfried Sassoon (I’ll talk about him later) who provided him with the help and the encouragement to write his war stories through poetry.

Owen was awarded The Military Cross in acknowledgement of his bravery but he was killed on November 4 1918 during the battle to cross Sambre-Oise canal at Ors.


Let Mr Rich dart down Maggie’s trench to see
what reality is, and pursue with hunger for loose
change. Eyes rancid with purpose like a dog salivating
at the mouth – thickly dripping like a leaking car battery.

Allow him to caress the blind, broke people under the line
who long to work to feed their families – or give the street
sleepers  some food to warm their bellies and a bed for the
night– not left to die and claw for the white light.

For Rich’s life seems to be laughing around the needy.
Conscienceless in his neck’s snake, glittering gold.
Whilst politicians make speeches on human rights,
livelihoods sold – pavements crack and the alleys hiss.


The People v. Michigan State

I wrote this poem after after watching Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroita 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
police arrived.
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
mind games.
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’m Mad As Hell And I’m Not Going To Take This Anymore: or We Have Come to This Great Stage of Fools

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
health-depleting ills.

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.

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore” is the main line from Network (1976)
(Network, MGM)

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.

If justice was done properly, ex-prime minister Tony Blair would be in jail for war crimes
(The Chilcot Inquiry, bbc.co.uk)

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.

Good Immigrant

Inspired from Black is the New Black, part of the BBC’s Black and British Black History season in November 2016


Home away from home.
From one island to another.
From the plains of Africa to
slavery to a land paved with gold.
That last one, a story sold on hearsay.

Made in the image of our creator.
Black skin, white masks –
ticking that Black British box –
a task, a struggle to understand
who you really are.

Children of the colonies, whose
parents prospered from their labour.
Strong in our pride, only smelling
the flavour when we came to see
what we had built for our mother.

The story of Black Britain (the story of immigrants in Britain) is the story of Britain, it is not a happy story
(Black And British, bbc.co.uk)

Stately homes, art galleries,
government buildings and so on.
The Barclays Brothers, Lloyds TSB
and JP Morgan all got fat on slavery’s
salaries – black people, slaves –
likened to an exotic menagerie.

Walter Tull! Mary Seacole! Trevor Macdonald!
Mary Prince! And many more since …
Citizen or a visitor? Countryperson or
an interloper? Not just men, women and
children passing through the middle passage.
No more slaves to throw overboard like the Zong.

Now when you stand up against what’s wrong,
your right as a citizen, whiteness cackles
like hyenas into the night – and then they
call you a criminal for protesting for what’s
rightfully yours – a job, decent housing, a wage

If there’s a statue for white figures like Florence Nightingale, there should be a statue for Mary Seacole
(Mary Seacole, bbc.co.uk)

not to throw people in a cage, prison cells
like it’s 1780, then Brixton happened.
1981: rebelling like the free slave state
of Haiti, conveniently three years before
slave trade ceased in the British Empire .

The story of the immigrant in Britain
is the story of Britain, it’s not a happy
story. But it’s all we’ve got.