Poetry

Conditional Clause

If you cut off a black man’s dreadlocks, he’ll kill himself

If I rock up to school with my house-girl canerows, or God forbid my afro, then I’ll probably be taken to one side to discuss the appropriateness of my hairstyle

If I pierce my tongue then I’m a whore

If I braid my hair past my waist then I’m an Afrocentric activist

If I type my name into Microsoft word, I’m grammatically incorrect politically

If I possess good behavioural management skills I become a parent automatically

 If I’ve got something to say, I’m aggressive

 If me nti Twi then I’ve lost my culture

 If I’m not married by the age of 20 then I’m a Facebookial disgrace

 If I make up words then I’m Shakespearean

 If I’m not Ofsted Outstanding then I’m an absolute failure

 If I’m comfortable in my own skin then I’m overconfident and need to be brought down a peg or eighty-seven

 If I’m dark-skinned, I should be ashamed of myself

 If I’m wearing makeup then I must be unrecognisable

 If I’m a teacher then I’m sorry but I’m busy even in my holidays

 If I’m a young Christian then it’s mandatory I wear skinny jeans

 If I’m a bride then unfortunately you can’t all be on my train

 If I’m creative then my mind’s all over the place all the aardvark

 If I’m a black woman, it must be prefixed by the lexis ‘strong’

 If I forgive you then I must be weak

 If I’m dissatisfied then I’m out.

 

I HAD a Dream

 I had a dream

That Africans and Caribbeans would not have to sneak into the countries they built with their bare hands

That they would not settle for dead-end jobs with no opportunity of progression

That they would not become content with said jobs and provide excuses for remaining there

I had a dream that blacks would not behave as though the world owes them something and would begin to take responsibility for their position in society

That we would refuse to accept labels such as “ghetto”

That we would move out of the ghetto

That the numbers 4-1-9 were alien

That the letters A-I-D-S were foreign

I had a dream

I had a dream that I could turn over to a music channel and not see my sister shaking what my mother gave her

That she instead covered herself with robes fit for the Queen that she is

That she commands respect

And I expect my brothers to accept

I had a dream that my brothers stored up treasures in their minds rather than round their necks

That they used their heads rather than trying to get it

That rapping is not the only thing that he’s good for or

That singing is not the only thing she’s good for or

That athletics is not the only thing they’re good for or

That crime is not the only thing we excel at

I had a dream

I had a dream that youths were not defined by their postcodes

That road-man would wear colours other than black, grey and navy blue

That girls wouldn’t become pregnant just to get their hands on a council flats and benefits

I had a dream that looting never took place

That shooting was not commonplace

That a higher proportion of us were in higher education than prison

That we would get involved in ACS rather than AC’s

I had a dream

I had a dream not that we had more role models but that we recognise the ones we do have

That we realised that we are not disadvantaged

That we can achieve greatness

That so many of us have before

That this is just the beginning

I had a dream that there is undiscovered wealth in Africa which we must pass down to generations

I had a dream that we paved the way

And changed the face

Of how we are known today

And if this is to become a great nation, this must become true

Let Freedom ring from

Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra-Leone, Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Egypt

Let Freedom ring from

Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, St Kitz and Haiti

Let Freedom ring from

North, South, East and West London

Let Freedom ring from

Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham

Let’s be free.

 

Overrated

(a poem I wrote in collaboration with a random person on tumblr late at night, poeticpersistence)

 

Love is a cycle with a synapse at the end

Partners have become fashion, pregnancy a trend

Love is pleasing but lust can never get enough

Females can be teasing, males can get rough.

Boys play it cool because girls radiate warmth

In attempt to be idiosyncratic and variagate norms

But are two lovers safe or are two lovers lost?

If love is the way, what is the cost?

 

They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved I agree

I didn’t choose love, love chose me

When my heart did the blinking I lost sight

When my feelings did the thinking I lost my mind

But Mr Right was always in the picture

Scripture depicts submission and vulnerability

Advocating what seemed like a greater cost to me

Mistakenly

Love

When with the perfect person

Is perfect.

 

But you see I agree,

with your every word on every line

Your every turn as you twine,

The optimistic thoughts on your mind

But please for just a second,

consider this philosophy of mine..

I find myself inclined

to believe, in the unique,

perfect, person you seek.

The thief, that’s bounds to leave,

with resent, unable to prevent,

the leaking of them sneaking,

with alleged friends.

That for so long they’ve spent,

building up a stage with,

for voluptuous intent.

I mean, how do we trust, in a world brimming with injustice?

A world where hope is dimming, disappearing in clusters

And that perfect partner you lost before you met will inevitably lust that and lust this?

I’ve pondered as I walked the road of life and the answer came to me on it’s own..

Just like you were born alone, you tend to die alone.

And I find it difficult to adjust this,

line of thought,

in the hope of justice,

Because just this,

is enough for me to accept the fact,

That in this world opposites attract,

And that saying alone, surely, sure enough..

Should explain one of the many reasons why I hate love.

 

I see now how your poetic points are persistent

And your viewpoint remains unchanging and consistent

But still I must resist and dismiss them before you convince me otherwise

I understand completely your thought patterns believe me

But i can’t help but feel as though you have an emotional wall

Maybe you loved once in the past

Maybe you lost it all

You have every reason to distrust the nature of humanity

Which is notably selfish

Intrinsically

Where it’s every man for herself

Apologetically

And a dog-eat-dog world

Unfortunately

But your distrust doesn’t solve much

Trust me

Rather it adds to the negativity

Positively casting out all hope of true love

If you don’t trust her, she’ll give you reason to.

But if you love her unconditionally, she’ll give you reason too.

Each to his own

Each to his own

Each too afraid to explore the unknown

Chacun de son côte

Ayant trop peur d’explore l’inconnu

Ognuno per se stesso

Ognuno ha troppa paura di esplorare lo sconoscuito

Cada uno por su cuenta

Cada uno con mucho miedo di esplorar el desconosido

 

Segregation plus discrimination is our current equation

Segregation caused by intimidation is our present situation

Cos it’s each to his own

Whether Black or Caucasian,

Hispanic, Oriental or Asian

It’s each to his own

I’m finding we stick to our own comfort zones

From music styles to clothes

Even falling in love and bringing partners home

I’m sorry Martin

I know you had big plans

I know you wanted our generation to join hands

But I don’t think we can

It’s just not possible

It seems your dream

Is just not plausible

Too many differences and all that

He’s White, I’m Black

I’m too domineering and he’s too weak

I start arguments whilst he sits back and agrees

“He can’t handle me!”

As the stereotype suggests

But let me be the first ‘strong black woman’ to confess

Strength portrayed on the exterior

Interior broken

Shattered self-esteem

Emotional wall;

Nothing in, nothing freed

Self-identity raped till it bleeds and cries out

But is ignored

And I am invisible

I stand alone.

 

And it’s each to his own

Each too afraid to explore the unknown

Chacun de son côte

Ayant trop peur d’explore l’inconnu

Ognuno per se stesso

Ognuno ha troppa paura di esplorare lo sconoscuito

Cada uno por su cuenta

Cada uno con mucho miedo di esplorar el desconosido

 

Like Kate Moss I had that ‘London Look;’

Engraved screw-face I couldn’t seem to shake

Eyes looking to the floor, never in another’s face

Till Conformity forced me to pronounce my ‘t’s’ and ‘ing’s’

He made me observe the world and what did I see?

Blinded eyes shielded by intimidation

Nursed by ignorance

Seduced by stereotypical superiority

Everyone wears hoodies these days but it seems as if I was born with mine on

And this reinforcement of ethnic inequality is nothing but wrong

So I reject your labels

And replace them with Change I can believe in

Cosmopolitan diversity is what I’m perceiving

For my Black children

And my Black children’s black children

Racial walls broken down

And all ethnicities

From all postcodes

And all towns

And all Cities

And all countries

Can join hands round a campfire and sing a new song

Repeat after me if you please;

 

Each to his own

Each too afraid to explore the unknown

Chacun de son côte

Ayant trop peur d’explore l’inconnu

Ognuno per se stesso

Ognuno ha troppa paura di esplorare lo sconoscuito

Cada uno por su cuenta

Cada uno con mucho miedo di esplorar el desconosido

 

Ketchup

You take a long hard stare

At what you used to have

Once upon a time

And look a way when I catch you looking.

 

Yes I’ve changed

My hair is longer

My bum is regretfully smaller

And as for the butterflies in my stomach,

I vomited them up

And placed them in Pandora’s box

Which you tried to open when you caught my attention

Lost my affection

Stared deeply into my eyes

But failed to see yourself in them

When you placed your hand on mine

But they were not dripping wet.

 

Yes I’ve changed

I’m not your little girl anymore

Your movements no longer move me

Your presence no longer woos me

Your words no longer fool me

Truly

I’m anaesthetised

Desensitised

And the bruises you left on my heart

Have healed

And they haven’t even left scars like I thought they would

I just thought I should

Let you know

That I’ve changed

And it’s a damn shame that you haven’t

 

So you take a long hard stare

At what you could have had

Once upon a time

And look away when I catch you looking

When I catch you dreaming about where you would be

If you were with me

And face front.

 

Comforthings

Clichéd expressions make me sick

It’s as if 50 cent was the first person to ever use a simile

“I love you like a fat kid loves cake”

This instantly became everyone’s status on instant messenger

The lyrical messiah

Who made all his followers seem like cool and original carbon copies

 

Take me back to those days when my mum picked up the house phone

And heard the dial tone

Cos I was on the internet

Polyphonic ringtones

Blue extensions

Cleopatra coming atcha

 

Take me back to Bishop John Robinson

When I wasn’t ramming GCSE’s and C-grades down my pupils’ throats

When I was innocent

When I wasn’t in a constant battle with my morals

When life wasn’t complex and complicated

When my biggest worries were lumpy mash

And chocolate cake but no chocolate custard

 

Take me back to the days when I had my life planned out

And my life mapped out as was planned

Take me back to the comfortable things

They were comforting

 

Excuses Excuses…

 Could you spare some change?

Are you hungry?

I can buy you food

I won’t spend the money on drugs or nothing

I’d rather know where my money is going

There’s a chippy around the corner

I was gonna buy food there later

I won’t spend the money on drugs or nothing

I follow her

She leads me

To a shop that looked like it had been closed for two years

Broken windows and rats

She had time to waste

And no shame

So McDonalds it is then?

I don’t want to leave my bike

Homeless with a PhD in excuses

 

Aye Aye, T’is a Scratch 

Mercutio’s not the only one in pain.

I’m the one watching Tarantino’s sex scenes with 13 year olds

Toes curling, I’m cringing

Leonardo di Montague kissing cousins killing

Children with special educational needs

Understanding the complexities of inuendo

Facial expressions and verbal exchanges

Too gifted and talented for all this differentiation

Friar Lawrence stealing from his own stash

While my USB sits penetrated in unfamiliar sockets

An unintentional one night stand

The exchange of 2000 words and not much else

While star-cross’d lovers ignore themselves

And remain silent

Text messages from strangers with strange utterances

And feisty women singing twisted love songs on the radio

What is English anyway?

This essay can’t write itself cos there’s no content

Only inconclusive conclusions and

Opinionated opinions that are all wrong

What is Love anyway?

Any definition is apt in its own context

But I lost my definition

And now I’ve got to re-write it

Copy it

Paste it

Email it

And Back it the hell up

Cos if I ignore it much longer

It will make worms meat of me

And if you ask for me tomorrow

I shall be a grave woman

Turning with Shakespeare

 

Columbidae

 The pigeon and the dove come from the same family

One is more favoured than the other

Two are released at a wedding ceremony to symbolise love and as an emblem of togetherness

One is fed left-over breadcrumbs in run-down parks by madmen

One is pure white, without blemish and glides through the sky effortlessly.

And she is admired by all who see.

The other is filthy.

Dirty.

Vermin.

Hailed with abuse and respected only as the scum of the Earth.

But below the feathers the skin is the same.

And below the skin the blood remains unchanged.

And little by little the pigeon gains

Confidence.

Now walking side by side with her oppressors from whom she used to flee

And one day she will rise up

And claim back her authority

And demand her inheritance as a Columbidae

To soar.

 

 

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