Gift Wrapping & Bows

Your rejection is one of the most beautiful

double edge sword gifts you’ve ever given me.

The cut contact, cut ties, cut pictures,

is the sharpest cut I’ve ever seen on a gift bow.

 

Your indifference wrapping paper is the perfect compliment

to the glassy ice cold sellotape,

carelessly and economically placed on the sides.

The emptiness within the box is packed so neatly,

How did you manage to get it all in?

 

And the reverberating silence that bounces back

when the dialling tone comes to a

stop

 

after unravelling the layers of decoration

and the death cold room temperature

that reminds me of my own source of heat and energy

 

How did you manage to get all of that into the emptiness?

 

The jagged velvet skirting of the blank card,

and air bubbles trapped beneath the wrapping,

bulging with the pressure,

I can see you’ve already squished them down

 

I imagine a thousand different messages you could have written on that card

I imagine the invisible ink bleeding into its thickness

but you were right to leave it blank,

all the right words could never have fitted onto this little card

 

Your gift is not desirable, it’s necessary

And those are the best kind of gifts to receive.

 

I didn’t want this nakedness

that has forced me to feel so lonely

that I had to remember what it was like to build myself up,

to remember what it was like to be alone before you came

but there was something therapeutic in stripping all the layers of wrapping paper away,

its bareness almost heals,

It forces me, reminds me, that I do not need you to be whole,

that I was whole before you came.

 

I used to be naïve,

Your last gift was packaged in a much smaller box

bearing a glimme-ring rock

with a much bigger card,  ‘ti amo per sempre‘ 

Now I know that there is no promise,

no obligation that external love should become a permanent tenant in my household

Back then I had met you, only as far as you had met yourself 

 

This is not a love poem for you,

do not think for one second it is,

It is a love poem for myself,

for the tears I shed for myself,

for the part of me that I’m mourning,

the part that I lost when I lost you,

tears of joy I cry for the rebirth,

the rediscovery of self

that became so clouded, so engulfed, in my search for the gifts I wanted

but were not needed.

 

Today, I’ve met myself again,

So thank you,

for allowing me to give the most beautiful,

and necessary gift I could give myself. 

 

My Privilege

My privilege does not come in different cuts

does not have a matching bag

or an appealing bust

My privilege comes in extra skin-tight

size 10, colour black and white

 

My privilege has English as its first language

with chunks of Creole, bloodline of Oku Marabou rotting in my mouth

my mouth

unaccustomed to forming the queer words

crippling in third place

as I place my British and Italian passport right next to my Gambian one,

knowing that the first two work far better for my tongue.

 

My privilege is complaining about white privilege

bemoaning the benefits I cannot reap from my  genetic linkage

is stealing the idea for this poem from a black girl

is writing about other black people’s fight

because even though I’m a shade too dark, I still have my rights.

 

My privilege is using stock names to describe injustice

Rosa Park, Malcom X, Martin Luther King,  Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone,

my voice is nothing more than just a dictaphone.

My privilege is  the silver tones,

the liquidation of word, bubbling saliva

frothing disgust,

yet leisurely night sleeps that remain untouched

untouched by the real urgency of the thought

‘My life is cheap’

How are you ever suppose to put that thought to sleep?

 

My privilege suffocates me,

I’m drown in guilt ridden waves of the lighter shades

obliged to recall the haunting memories of the slave-trade

I bite my lips to the comments of my

distasteful preoccupation with skin,

the silky rich black bleached to blotchy caramel,

Do you not think it would be much easier for me to turn a blind eye?

to pretend that one day all of this will pass by?

 

But my privilege is this,

extra skin-tight

size 10, colour black and white

Is me placing my British and Italian passport right next to my Gambian one,

knowing that the first two work far better for my tongue.

 

 

 

Threadbare Ramblings

If journalism was a honey drizzled cup of tea, 

I’d swish the apple sweet around my mouth to let it sieve 

through the small of my teeth and stain the roots 

of my buttery gums. 

 

If poetry was sun-kissed apricots, 

I’d take a tender bite out of the fibre meshed round

leaving dentures to its hard outer-core skin,

gentle flakes of its fresher state, 

an earlier date. 

 

If science was the truth,

I’d drink the logical elixir from brim to base

running around shouting

‘now I’m free, I’ve had my dose, 

and only about the truth is what I can boast.’ 

 

If  only religion was more than just absolutes, 

allowing for flukes,

delivering promised grace for everyone, material bans to be later undone. 

 

But journalism is not so sweet, the media’s facts are not so concrete

and poetry is just words strung together in a confused blunder, 

an effort to reword our blurred momentary burst of energy. 

 

Neither science nor religion are absolute

and neither or are concurrently cruel. 

One theory has not been proven wrong as of yet, 

the other has been mass produced in conflicting mindsets. 

 

If humans were not the cause of destruction

war, hunger, obstruction. 

Propagators for hatred and fears of notions unknown, 

crippling parasites caused from being underexposed.

 

But what is taught can be untaught.

Journalism is not sweet, the media is not concrete

poetry is threadbare, science is not logical,

religion is not absolute,

humanity is not dead.  

White Privilege

How to explain white privilege to my father,

who his whole life has never known anything more than saving money for a house to be harder

or to my grandmother who is too blinded to see that no white person would ever consider me to be white.

 

How to explain to my father,

that if I was a boy instead of a girl, I too would be the stereotyped,

the black youth, roaming the street, destined for unemployment because of the pigments in my skin.

 

How to explain to my father,

that reversal racism has never existed

because of the simple fact that slavery cannot be omitted from our history

Yes dad, bringing this up again, might seem a little like persistence.

I’m not claiming that discrimination is only defined by black existence,

but to say that we are living in the 21st century where white and black are equal

–and even in that sentence I am conditioned to put white before black–

is to deny the years of past evil.

Is to say that we have been repaid enough for mistakes, not made on your behalf,

when repayment should not have even been a discussion in the first place.

 

How to explain to my father,

that when I see the life of another black human being snatched away,

even if I do not know them personally, I still feel their desolation.

because they are innocent victims

of ingrained racial anthems

which have been played for years and years on repeat

and still I have to explain to you, why being black and white for me is so bittersweet?  

 

How to explain to my father,

that being white, you cannot never truly understand

what it’s like

to be born with a sense of innate persecution for nothing other than being

you.

That even if you can’t understand any of this, doesn’t mean you should set this all aside

and if you can’t begin to sympathise, well it’s like you never even tried.

 

I’m not asking for pity, or a shortcut out of life’s harshness,

I’m simply asking for us not to be punished for our darkness.

This is not an attack on you or white people,

because I do not hate that part of me and I do not hate the pigments that are beneath the layer of your skin.

I just find it hard to pretend that this, at least for me, isn’t the

reality.

 

How to explain white privilege?

I don’t even know where to begin.

 

So Many

So many words left unsaid

mundane hellos and goodbyes

advantageous askings, whispered kisses under blue skies

banal statistics awash in the crackling wind

unread messages left on the pin board, not yet unpinned

 

So many words left unspoken

questions of invention

breached rules of customs and social conventions

the crushed declaration swept under the rug

the frigid feud bled into the dormant promises

 

So many places left unvisited

so little of the world that is sought

how many billions of people you will never know

how many what ifs you’ll never have the answer to 

how many of the great perhaps,

many doors left unopen

too many regrets to be had.

 

So many words left unspok—

FEET.

They say that hands are life’s own personal memory store

but I would have to disagree

that 

a foot can tell a thousand stories more

The natural navigator of our impending paths

 

It recalls the exceptional 

disreputable 

fantastical stories

journeys of youth made through the forbidden territories

The tracks unearthed through the cracks you trace with your fingers

and the dentures and blemishes that tenaciously

lingers

 

A foot can tell a thousand stories more

of the passages taken through back-alleyways

The pilgrimage taken to reach

that

higher place

The standing meditation

a first date’s hesitation

a trip a stumble or fall–

the uniqueness of 

your
journey

 

In war it is the hand that pulls the trigger

but the foot that stamps out the flame of hope

marching to the 

pum-a-rum drum of destruction

coerced to haul itself to the front-line through instruction

The natural navigator of our impending paths

 

A handshake between politicians seals the 

vitriolic peace decree

but a foot takes the first step forward before the hands can agree

A child may use its hands to rush in and explore the world

But it takes a baby time to get up

walk

and twirl

 

Hands are social animals

Signing papers

coveting capital

Feet on the other hand

are our own personal slaves

Never free long enough to make another’s acquaintance

Always under the body’s politically 

constitutional
surveillance  

 

But when did feet become political?

When feet are 

just
feet.

 

When did our lips

ears

eyes 

and mouth 

become political?

When did our bodies become politically charged

and
monetary barged?

 

If I could read your foot
and you could read mine

I would remove the political spikes

and the social-ones
alike

and let feet be feet again,
accustomed to navigate our 

impending 

paths 

A breed of different shades.

I recently wrote (and recorded) my first spoken word poem. The perfectionist in me is not one hundred percent satisfied with the recitation, however the sentiment is there! Also please note that some of the words are slightly alternated from my original scripted piece, probably due to my nerves of trying not to get it wrong. Enjoy! 

A breed of different shades: 

Mixed race,

we are the breed of different shades,

the variety that inspires a continuous stream of curiosity,

scrutinises, explanations, animosity—

Where are you from?

 

The exotic the unknown,

misowned,

the people who have to justify their existence

a resistance,

to Society’s inflexible rules of the racial grouping system

 

I’m from London

But no—really, where are you from?

 

As ‘other’ I must answer to this displacement, debasement,

but why the need for this retracement?

Must I be filed into a box,  

just to make you feel comfortable,

safe, indestructible,

I must show myself to be deductible?

 

Human. I’m a citizen of the world

Now come on that’s not a label—

I mean, could you be a little bit more specific,

up until now your answer has been pretty unscientific

 

Polluted blood amalgamating 

either fetishised or alienated,

we are the ‘not quite there’ people by Society’s predicates,

conditioned to a life of unequal opportunities

A life occupied with uncertainty,

we are genetically inclined to its adversities

 

More scientific, okay

I’m black and I’m white,

My genetics is a delicate mixture of an Italian gene,

which yes, does make me just a little bit bright,

but is carefully neutralised with my Gambian spleen

 

Oh wow, really?

What’s it like to be that,

the other, the abstract?

 

In a society that does not acknowledge our diversity,

they tell you: please tick a box on our governmental questionnaire,

you are either White, Mixed, Asian or Black,

we don’t really care, honesty you could be from anywhere,

but your melange is not what we want on this feedback

so please, just tick a box

 

Abstract?

Yes you know, you are neither us nor them

Deprived to be part of the privileged inventor,

but not too dark to be utterly condemned

Do you find yourself often stuck in the centre?

 

The not knowing where I ‘fit in’,

the conflict between my entitled, privileged part,

and my diligent, impoverished half?

The divergence between prerogative of my western component,

which the belittling, derision and contempt for my other half augments

Phenomena unknown to my western side,

but into neither of those two categories, my vessel does so easily divide

 

The centre, what do you mean?

Well do you ever feel like you’re in a limbo?

I guess you could say that, I am sort of in-between

 

I speak too white to be black,

but dance to black to be white

My curls are beautiful,

because they are diluted,

not too kinky to be refuted

My skin is beautiful, because ‘sunkiss’ is now mainstream,

somehow validating these pigments that course through my bloodstream

 

Too ‘toubab’ for my African roots,

but a shade too dark to be light, my white part hoots

And I want to reply who commanded all these divisions?

Dissection: the thorny pathways for more collisions

Can anyone really be born with that philosophy?

And with all these chemicals and bleaching it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy

 

How about you, where you are from?

I’m from London

 

Explanations unneeded,

because to be white means to live a life unimpeded.

Nothing ‘unusual’ or ‘tropical’

No need for a conversation to get topical

because to be a white man

means you’re not just seen as that

You’re a blank canvas, not bound by the colour of your skin,

unlike my mother, your chances in life will never be so slim

 

I, however am mixed race,

a breed of different shades

The exotic the unknown,

misowned,

a resistance,

to all this divisional persistence.

Genetically inclined to this life of uncertainty,

under the yoke of its all its adversities

 

And I am bloody proud to be so.

One Languid Afternoon, A Bus Ride With You.

One languid afternoon,

a bus ride out on the country roads,

you and I spoke of worlds beyond comprehension,

touched upon the crumbles of intangible dimensions.

 

One languid afternoon,

during our bus ride through the grassy patchwork meadows,

you and I uncovered the meaning of shadows.

The phantoms of memories that seeps into consciousness,

the barracks too brittle to restrain the dampen haze of contemplation,

the knotted wires of our brain,

the ‘bottomless pit’ that we will never be able to emit,

no matter how hard we try to feign.

 

Some say that religion has the cure,

a bittersweet dose of the obscure,

something, ‘bigger than yourself’

to unbosom the physicalistic credence shelf.

A scapegoat, a forged pledge of benediction,

that with its jurisdiction, duly swears to save you from sentient affliction,
the human condition.

 

Others contest that you are deluded,

to believe in this nonsense, it’s just because you want to feel included.

But is it such an abstracted retort to hope

that more to life subsists than what we are told exists,

under the microscope?

 

Hope to met again with those who left just a bit too early this morning,

the sunbeam was just peering through the curtains, when you left here without warning.

To carry on that unbroken conversation

which is only temporarily interrupted,

for an imperceptible duration.

A flicker of an eyelash, a draught of prickly air,

peeling back the mossy layer of absent and misplacement,

to open the front door and be greeted by the welcoming face,
the familiar warmth,

and laughing, you ask me, ‘what made you so late!’

I would reply, ‘oh life just got in the way’,

but now, that just sounds a little bit too cliché,

so instead I will say: “oh I was just counting down my days,

I had a few errands to run here and there.”

And I won’t mention how every time I saw the sun rays,

I thought of that beautiful, beautiful morning,

When careless and untroubled, you left me without warning.

 

And when I think back to that languid afternoon,

now a glimmer of my distant memory,

a melted snow-flake in a simmering puddle,

I think of all that I did not know back then,
the energy pouring out from the crook of your mouth,

forming verses, which diffused our contemplations,

allowing our phantoms to mingle,
storing up these indispensable rags of confront
for a later cold front.

 

And when we terminated at our stop,

That transient journey, the fleeting moment of meditation seemed to come all of a sudden to a

halt.

And each fell silent, one after the other

content to sit in the stillness,

eyes locked with understanding

that no one likes to hear this talk,

no one likes to listen to this morbid squawk.

 

But when I think of you and I,

on that banal, languid afternoon

–Yes we both could have been anywhere, but I was there with you,

taking that bus ride, we were tucked away in the pocket of our own preoccupations.

 

When I think of you and I,

on that languid afternoon,

I’m assured that there must be more.

Ojufindin, Mother Come Back.

For my one true love. The woman who gave me everything and made me everything I am today, thank you for always reminding me of my fount. 

Ojufindin, mother come back- they used to call me.

But mother to whom, I would say—

come back from where?

 

Our pierced feet and slender limbs,

our hollow rib cages, bellies swollen to the brims,

the sun beating down on our polished faces.

Begging- we are slaves to our hunger’s embraces.

These are the signs that the white man takes as poverty,

the physical manifestation of our misery.

 

Does he not know what a blessing it is to walk upon this earth,

when our bare feet tenderly brushing against the smooth, crumbling terrain

feels its pulse

A sacred vein of vitality, tingles through our soles,

the warmth lingers deep within our chest,

a delicious feeling of the eternal rest.

 

Or what a blessing it to pick the plush fruit from no man’s land,

to know that an appetite does not need to be gorged

to bask in the shade of the trees’ canopy,

knowing that this life of frugality is not so devastating as it seems.

 

Does he not know that the land is rich, even if the man is poor.

 

Or does he not know what a blessing is this liberty,

from the fluctuating virtual numbers that you can never touch,

the lifestyle, which seems currently always out of stock.

 

I used to think the streets of London were paved with gold,

Oh Dick Whittington—how wrong were we both.

The iron bird that took me here—this is not the place that you defined

I did not become Lord Mayor of London.

Did I get something wrong? Should I be this surprised?

 

And please someone tell me,

what is this term ‘black’? I am just like you.

Two hands, a foot, a nose and a back

and this term African, what does it mean?

Yes I am from Africa, but I am Gambian you see.

I am from the smiling coast of Africa, yes that’s the one—

right next to the sea.

 

Did I forsake the unimposing motherland for this,

when ‘poverty’ is indeed no sin.

And now more often than ever, I find that I reminisce,

about all the things that have been.

The years wasted on a trickling dream.

 

How did I forget my grandmother’s teachings,

the best things in life are free,

but was I always this over-reaching?

 

At night I hear them calling me again as I fall flat,

Ojufindin- mother come back.

My grandmothers’ teachings,

boorishly seem to be whispering

reminding me whilst limply lingering,

If you no sabbe ou-side you da go, yo fo no ou-side you commot

 

Every night I shut my eyes,

I hear the reprise of the ocean’s melody

transport me back home, in such brevity.
And it is in that immortal haze,
which in reality spans just as long as a gaze,
that I realise that although my body,
placed in a foreign land, might seem disembodied,  

My heart, my love, my spirit, my soul remain as one,

locked up safe and sound in that place, which I shall always call,

 
My Home.  

I am ashamed to be British

I have never felt more ashamed to be British.

The land of hope and glory,

an image which has certainly in my eyes been diminished

Now, the catalyst for brutality,

which has gain legality,

an unbridle force of destruction is what this nation has become,

the reality that you cannot shy away from,

 

The deed is done.

On standby are your anti-aircraft guns.

The blood to be spilt is more

than that with which we had begun,

 

A war, I think, for generations to come.

 

You have decided that it is the voice of the people

who wish to unleash this irrevocable evil.

But you are wrong.

It is you who is resolved to fight terrorism

with extremism

The news I see on the television,

it makes me wonder if this coalition

has become the negation of intelligence.

 

I have to ask you Mr Prime Minister,

whether you too could bare to see the blood

of thousands civilians,

suffering with your afflictions.

Men, women, children.

People.

 

Thousand of sentient lives, destroyed.

Because-

we are the fuel of destruction,

a result from your deplorable speech production.

By which I and thousands were unconvinced,

but still you did not wince.

 

Their blood is on your hands,

and yes the guilt does span,

to all the others who demanded this too.

I have to ask you Mr Prime Minister,

as the chief person who carried this through,

whether you will take the responsibility

of your action with the same agility

with which you ordered them.

 

And from these sleepless nights of stress,

do not for one second think that result to come from this is rest.

Peace cannot come from spilt blood.

The consequences of your actions are only just beginning to flood.

 

I will close my eyes again tonight,

and before sleep arrives, I shall think again of my voting right,

I thought I was a citizen of a free country,

 

But, for the first time in my life
I am ashamed to be British.