(With thanks to Yes Minister)
I stand by my convictions.
You are stubborn.
S/he is intolerant.
I am having a bad day.
You are making excuses.
S/he is incompetent.
I am shy.
You are awkward.
S/he is just unfriendly.
I am being serious/considerate/thoughtful/sensitive.
You might need to learn how to take a joke.
S/he is a humourless fuddy-duddy who needs to lighten up.
I am a maverick/innovator.
You are unorthodox.
S/he is a weirdo.
I am a protester/freedom fighter.
You are rocking the boat.
S/he is a troublemaker/pariah/rebel.
I am just telling you what I heard.
You are just saying it out of concern for them.
S/he is gossiping.
I am being picked on.
You are receiving criticism.
S/he is refusing to listen to advice.
I have a right to be here.
You are a hard-working citizen.
S/he has come here to steal our jobs.
I am rightfully cautious.
You need to be braver.
S/he is a coward.
I am having some temporary cash-flow problems.
You are in between jobs/suffering some financial difficulties.
S/he must be a workshy, lazy scrounger to be receiving state benefits.
I am a special and unique person.
You are alright and deserve some respect.
S/he is scum.
I am right/know best
You are misguided.
S/he is wrong.
I think I’ve got those right. Have I missed any? Irregular verbs are always tricky…
Where am I from?
As if I am supposed to know.
I try and divine
what they want or mean
I hesitate and gauge the situation, patient
for misunderstandings to abound.
Where do I live? Where I do not yet know.
Not far from my birthplace, but it’s far from fair to place me there.
And where I lived longest I am a stranger
and it looks, lately, less like home.
Do you mean my parents?
They are migrants too.
Camping here and moving there
as the economic winds blow
so our family’s sails billow.
And I don’t expect
I know where’s next.
What about my blood?
I am as English as they come
(By which I mean still part refugee)
But you don’t mean that because I am white enough.
And no, my voice won’t help you either.
I come from my experiences as much as my kin
My birth tells you no more than my colour of skin
And this mythical hometown-true North within
is a figment of your imagination.
In some ways
This love is a given
As plain as day
As obvious as
an elephant in a room
full of vets.
Creation is love writ loud, like
A stark passion plastered and
on breathtaking cliffs and sheer forest drops.
Even in the rain
mute mountains bellow,
the brooding fjords cry out
and silent seascapes sing
“The King, the King
He loves all things”
And though we’ll never hear it,
quiet kisses ring
in my eyes.