The past is my present to your future

[The title of this piece is quoting a piece of pavement art on Grainger Street in Newcastle, close to Grey’s Monument. This was written during the 2011 riots and was my first intentional poem.]


At times I feel the weight of history weighing on my generation

The debt we owe to the past to honour it with our freedom.

The hands of my ancestors, my parents’ generation, and my friends’, are grasping at my ankles

As they fade into photographs and old, forgotten, static paper

I look around at my contemporaries to see if they notice

But they’re drowning in plastic, chrome and light, lost in technology and each other

I’m not sure they’d recognize the past

I’m not sure that they care.


I had a dream about this once

While I was still the future

I saw youths with black hoods and flaming torches

Marching toward my school with a deadly determination

Amidst an atmosphere of building fury


I was inside with my church

 and the great and good of “stable society”

Looking out at my generation and feeling them unleashing

Twice I turned to warn them, but they weren’t interested.

They didn’t believe it would happen

We were comfortable inside

So I came away from the window.


Six months shy of a decade later I saw it happen

Huddled in the corner of a student house nearly empty of life

I shivered as I watched the news

As Croydon burned and Birmingham rioted

And stable society looked on the chaos, helpless

I thought, somehow I knew this was coming

I tried to say something – we even set up a youth group –

But I don’t think they really listened. So I stopped bothering

And I’ve buried my head so deep in the present

That I can barely see a future.