A poem written by Jacqueline Courtenay
In this poem, it is just another day in the life of a Black east Londoner who looks out of her living window to observe the mundanity of daily life. And just like any day, she notices a group young, Balaclava-clad boys running out of the local shop before dashing down the street at speed. Later on in the day, sirens punctuate the noise of school children heading home. Police tap goes up and onlookers gather. Another child has killed another child. Another family begin to grieve, and another statistic is drawn up about numbers of teenagers stabbed to death in the capital. As a mother, her heart races for these boys and all those like them, girls included, caught up in knife crime, the drug trade and gang culture. In London, knife crime with injury continues to lay bare the inequalities in society, the little value put into the young lives of inner city children and whose experiences are given a severe lack of attention from multi-disciplinary agencies in treating knife crime as a public health crisis.
‘We don’t know what to say’ is an exasperated expression of helplessness, it is a cry out to street kids, from someone who did not succumb to the pressures of road life despite growing up on a council estate in a single-parent household. Working in corporate Britain now, this Black Londoner wishes she could reach out to these children and show them another, safer way. And now, as a mother, she simply wishes for the safety of all children but doesn’t know what to say.
We Don't Know What to Say We watch you going about your day Not at all knowing what to say When you’re making questionable choices And squandering your life’s chances As we watch, we hold our breaths Lest we say something and get threatened to death For in these times of plenty o’knives We don’t know what to say Lest we get shanked and left in a ditch Simply because we wanted to scratch this ambitious itch Of helping street kids get out and take an inch, at first. Then a step out of the dark into the light. When we gaze out our windows and watch you move, thoughts buzzing like do we step in and ask you to reconsider? A different way to get by? A different way to aim high? A different avenue to ride? Cos watching you lot do what you do For real man, it leaves me shook. You’re all like little brothers to me And I really just wanna hug ya you see and say… Come with me Let me show you how to live comfortably No not swimming in cash But when I see feds I don’t need to make a dash We all want the best but I want the best for you Not seeing you dead on the news. Especially the Black ones who, aren’t often given a lifeline For many of us it’s straight through that dirty pipeline School to streets, to make ends meet But soon as you’re on that beat, no sooner will you have a rap sheet When I see feds pulling you up My heart skips a beat. Worried for another mother Who may lose her son. This ain’t just a poem, these are my everyday thoughts as I watch you on the haunt The whole time not knowing what to say. -End-
Leave a comment to let me know what you think of this poem.
Thanks for reading,