Europa La Bella

I have
Heard
You sing a love
Song
To a continent.

Not the continent
of your Caribbean parents –
America
nor of your distant ancestors –
Africa
Neither of your spiritual tutors –
India
But the continent
Into which you were born.

The child of Windrush-esque
Immigrants in
Post-war London –
Different then;
Poor
Honest
And vibrant.
Your community
Was like a womb
Insulating each other
From the hostility
Of some of those
Whose sensibilities you offended

Others looked upon you
With intrigue and love
Inculcated you into
The ways of the new place
Into which you were born
Took you beyond your parents’
Foreigner conceptions
And made you natives with black faces

You reciprocated.
Culturally located
Somewhere in the mid-Atlantic
You brought the nation exotic flavours
Sounds
And moves.
Your rebel generation
Frolicked with England’s own
Spiky-haired, punked-up youth
And together you defined
The years in which you were
Young
And the future
We now inhabit.

You grew
You learned.
Your parents’ influence
Waned and
Education,
University
Changed you.
Friends.

For your parents, America:
Cassius Clay, music, the flicks.
Black people, en masse.
You rejected that glittering illusion
And looked the other way
To Europa, la bella.
Erasmus in France
Weekends in Copenhagen
Nights in the Biarro Alto,
Santorini
Barcelona
And Bologna
You fell in love.

A love affair with European thought
The struggles of Soren, Jean-Paul and Immanuel
To make sense of existence
The poetry of Johan Wolfgang and William
Were beautiful flowers in the intellectual landscape
Of your home.
Your joy was always soundtracked,
By the treasures your parents bequeathed
Robert Nesta, Gregory, U-Roy, Miles and Dizzy;
Which became as much a part
of modern Europa la bella
As Edvard, or Ludwig or Johan Sebastian.

Tu es Européen!
But maybe they will take
That from you
As a diaspora you have learned not
To get too comfortable
Too safe
Lurking in the dark corners
Of Europa la bella
Are the remains of the malevolence
Which brought hell
In the latter early and mid century –

Whatever befalls you
You are, and will now always be
European
A tiny modern branch
Of the great migratory tale
Of homo-sapiens leaving Africa
To become whoever
Your minds are European
You are the synthesis
Of Afro-Caribbean-Anglo-European
And you step forward
Into the future.
Always.

Advertisements

Universal Westerner

They swarm.
We swarm.
To the alien
More phenomenal
Than locusts
Devouring as we go.
Bedecked in
The fruits of earth’s
Billion-year gatherer phase
Extracted, woven, soldered
Moulded, processed
Baked.

Boarding jets
And trains
Wheelie case trailing
Neatly pressed;
Coiffured.
Clean like bling.
Micro-electronic
Treasures
Always
Close to hand.

Can’t we be more simple?

Scale it back.

The jet-set is a
Heinous manifesto for
Destruction.
Read ecocide
Where you once spied
Glamour
And status.

Be more local
Be less marketable
Aspire
Not
To the template
Of the
Universal Westerner
Because they’ve already
Replicated
To the point of severe
Ecological harm

Aspire to yourself.

Love Is Still Radical

We both want
The same
Thing
Well-being
Betterment
A bright tomorrow

It’s just that
The means we choose
Diverge.
You in your
Genuine
Heartfelt passion
Need to exit
Need to be free
From that which
You perceive
As a form of
Tyranny.

I love that
Which you view
As tyrant
It is the channel
Through which
I can express
All that I need to be.

But still
Let’s be radical

Let’s walk arm-in-
Arm, you and I
Through the thronging
City streets
You in your colours
of red and white
Me, resplendent
In yellow and blue

Let’s walk and talk
And hug and laugh
Ignoring the bafflement;
Our love the perfect
Shield against the
Rage of former
Comrades.

Because,
In times of hate
Love is still
A radical act

(It Looks Like) The (Far-Right) Revolution Will Be Televised

You will not be able to switch off, brother
You will not be able to believe that which is unfolding before your eyes
You will not be be able to lose yourself in social media distractions
Or celebrity culture or fantasy warfare on your computer console
Because the far-right revolution will be televised

The far-right revolution will be televised

The far-right revolution will be brought to you by Marr mouthing cheerily
That it’s OK, they’re elected
The far right revolution will be brought to you, Blue Peter-style, with
Skewed so-called fact-checkers ladling propaganda into the empty heads of the watching masses
The far-right revolution will feature glamorous political editors
Dripping poison; your pixelated friends, killing you slowly with their siren songs
While the cognitive tools necessary for your self-preservation lie idle on the floor

The far-right revolution will be brought to you by jocular political leaders
Just like the people you know down the pub. Chuckling and making sounds
Which seem soothing and familiar (but listen to the words they are pure terror)
The far right revolution will feature a lack of critical analysis
And a facsimile of balance which does not compute
And people who should know better, not knowing better
Blinded by prejudices they never thought they had.

There will be instant replays of brothers being hurt by the baying mobs
There will be instant replays of brothers being hurt by the baying mobs
While commentators mouth, ‘it’s OK, they are elected’
There will be highlights on the ten o’clock news and Myrie will wonder
Why he hasn’t resigned yet, while singing the lyrics of that Jay-Z song
The one in sepia cartoon form, featuring Nina Simone

The far-right revolution will not follow GBBO
The far-right revolution will not be back after BGT
The leaders of the far-right revolution will one day feature on SCD
The far-right revolution will be built on apathy and lies.

The far right revolution will be televised, people.

Only because we’ve allowed it into our lives.