[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.