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‘a bullet hole in my stomach and a stone splintered exit wound’ 

(A poem about the demolition of Newcastle Castle to make way for the railway, commissioned for First Draft’s Flying Donkeys Live event in Newcastle)


They tore down my auntie’s building,

Kicked out her great grandchildren,

Stone by stone

This terradome had never known such growing pains.

They put me on a rack,


I mean a track.

The price of development has a human cost-

A bullet hole in my stomach

And a stone splintered exit wound.

The fragments rustle in their pockets-

The doctors who said

I was a threat to the health of progression.

They tore down my auntie’s building,

Kicked out her great grandchildren,

Kicked out the thieves,

Kicked out the cobblers,

Mutineers, teachers,

Crooked policemen-

My slum village heroes.

They wiped down clown faces,

Silenced the street performers,

Gone was the corner- that was our platform.

The curtain call came tumbling down,

The curtain wall came crumbling down

To the theme of our swansong. Don’t applaud.

Can’t you hear these walls?

Can you hear it?

That’s the sound of them tearing my body down,

Stone by stone,

My jenga home

Was pulled apart like the fibres from my flesh

Until the rubble was barely recognisable.

Can you taste it?

That’s the ash we came from,

The sawdust spilling from the blocks

that built the walls you cannot touch.

Can you see them?

We are the shadows in the Castle Garth,

The chill in the Keep,

Can you feel it?

They tore down my auntie’s building,

Kicked out her great grandchildren,

Stone by stone,

We haunt the place we once called


Can you hear that?

That’s the sound of them tearing my body down.



Rafiki’s Wisdom

I had a dream.

I had a dream that I sat with Rafiki on the shores of Lake Langano.

His grey coat shimmered in

The Rich tea water as we watched the sunset


Into the naked, black night.

He dipped his hand and scooped up a cup of the lake.

He told me to drink my history

But I demanded a chocolate biscuit

To sweeten the taste.

He said sugar was for white people

And it was time I grew my wisdom teeth.

He said it would be less painful if it happened instantly but I refused.

We got stuck in a traffic jam.

He jammed his staff into the ground

but I wouldn’t part with my ignorance.

He called it insolence,

I called it liberalism.

We spat sparks of insults

Until our fire lit the night we neglected to notice

Had turned into the City of London skyline.

‘Look at all that slave money.’ He continued,

‘Our lives are a story of imports and exports.’

He explained how we brought capital to the capital,

How we built the Capitol, how we were catapulted from the continent.

I reminded him that we were sold.

He said we were stolen from the earth that birthed us,

That we’re the cursed sons of Ham.

I said Lucy was Ethiopian

and the Bible said ‘black is beautiful.’

He said, ‘black is Chi Raq, black is Hotel Rwanda.

We sell trauma for change like the homeless.

They export our pain for profit,

They make money off it,

They pay royalties for it

But you can’t opt out of the social contract or

You’re branded unpatriotic.’

I started to see through the lens he prescribed me.

I saw the trade for what it was:

Lyrics for constitutions

While our institutions decayed into a destitution of agency.

I saw the valency for our lives were three-

One for the single, two for the show,

Three for the funeral

When sales targets fall below

Columbus’, sorry, Columbia’s expectations.

I saw the film screen for the tint of a black mirror.

It’s hard to be righteous when you’re told you’re a killer

It’s hard to be human when you’re told you’re a …

I wondered why there were so many Killmongers

But the blurred lines revealed a common hunger


Still neglected,

Still the ‘Wretched of the Earth’,

From birth… I saw now.

I handed Rafiki back his glasses

But the journey had blinded his eyes.

His scarred pupils cracked open to reveal a dark blue sky.

In the inner depths of his soul

I saw ninja turtles pouring out of manholes.

I saw that it was the balance of the comic and the conscious that was the challenge

When he read the Boondocks during a Trump rally.

He’d said he’d learnt to tip the scales in alleviation

With the abbreviation of ‘nigga’

And shunned away from the transubstantiation of liquor into blood

So that it wasn’t my inheritance.

I saw that black

Was an expensive gene to pass down

But noticed the rich colour was in distress when

A trail of tears ran down his cheeks

Until it reached the lake.

He told me to drink my history and I understood.

I cupped my hands in prayer

And sipped from the altar.

And then I woke.

And then I slept.

And woke again until

I couldn’t tell the difference.


Fahad is a spoken word poet currently studying History at Durham University who also works with musicians as part of a project called The Poetry Experiment.

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