Sticking to one style of poetry does not come naturally to me, so I have neither adopted nor cultivated one.
Each poem is written for different reasons. With the exception of Tanka (a form of Japanese poetry requiring a particular structure), I am generally motivated to write poems inspired by my emotions, not usually happy ones. It is important to me to express how I feel. This means they are initially scribbled by hand and given very little thought. Subsequently, they can be crafted into something readable (to a greater or lesser degree).
I could be moved by the misfortunes or death of a friend, social injustice, prejudice, environmental destruction or war.
I wrote the following poem after reading Benjamin Zephaniah’s autobiography and watching the film “In the Name of Our Father”, feeling frustrated and angry at the pace of progress. The reason I am posting it, rather than any other, is simply because it is my most recent.
My poems do not usually rhyme. This one does.
Pregnant with promise from the lawgiver
Justice sometimes fails to deliver
Now and then, when it goes wrong
The boys in blue sing a different song
Cardiff Three, Guildford Four
This is not a football score
Maguire Seven, Birmingham Six
Innocent people – the coppers’ fix
Decades are stolen from the falsely jailed
The cops sense of right has somehow failed
No apology, no compensation
A mockery of the laws of this nation
By devious means, confessions extracted
Evidence concocted, misdeeds enacted
At the wrong time, in the wrong place
The Bill under pressure, convictions to chase
Sometimes the power can go to the heads
A frenzy of beating results in some dead
The Special Patrol murdered Blair Peach
An innocent man who came here to teach
An anti-racist, marching for peace
Never thought he’d be killed by police
The guilty men the evidence hid
Despite the fact we all knew what they did
They give out guns to the specially taught
But nerves can bring a finger up short
A young Brazilian unsure of his rights
Ran when he was in their sights
Death dealt out – shot eight times
Investigations found no crimes
Incompetence seen in those at the top
When will we see these atrocities stop?
Do you think it could happen still?
False allegations, excuses to kill?
Has the Force cleaned up its act?
Can it break its officers’ pact
To protect each other when wrong is done
By harassment, coercion, truncheon or gun?
There is information they’re unwilling to share
Death in their custody is not so rare
If they don’t like your politics, religion or race
If they take offence to your colour of face
If the way that you talk rubs up the wrong way
You’re stuck in a game that’s a nightmare to play
In a rush to convict with evidence lacking
By the media fooled, with populist backing
A case can be built by fabrication
You’ll say what they want with intimidation
Don’t let justice miscarry or abort
Whenever people are tried in court
It must give birth to what is right
Without ignoring the innocents’ plight
Join in the struggle, help those in danger
Whether they’re family, friend or stranger
Show up the bad apples that spoil the rest
Put the system through rigorous tests
Campaign for fairness, fight for what’s true
Don’t let them hide the things that they do
When the blameless are punished, the guilty escape
Fraud and collusion are allowed to take shape
Expose the poison these structures hold
To resist their lies, you must be bold
Keep your foot in the other shoe
Because before long it could be you…