Poetry Rivals 2016

Taking poetry from the page to the stage!

What If They Knew

Nervous at the school gates
Split fates and faces different
They ate rice with a fork
I with a spoon
My mother spoke her sweet Punjabi
Her sweet, sweet Punjabi
Bended to every dialect
I stood by
Itching to leave
What if they hear her
They'll remember I'm different
They'll ignore my face won't they
They'll ignore her embroidery
They'll ignore her kameez
They'll ignore her shalwar
They'll ignore my name
While they say it so differently
Mama and Abu
Clasping what they can
Of what they left behind
Those melodies and native tongue
On sunrise radio before school
I was itching to turn it down
Close the door quickly
And turn my back on home.
What if they heard where they come from
They'll ignore my ignorance
On pop culture references
They'll ignore my grandmother's broken English
Sounding sweeter than a thousand sonnets in the Queen's
If only I knew how sweet it was
I'd hold her hand a little tighter as she walked me home
Where I'll always have to go
My grandfather scolds me in Urdu
It burns twice
One for the scold
One for the Urdu, one for the shame
I'm hoping he stops
They can't ignore that voice
What if they hear his journey
What if they hear the noble decision
What if they hear prison
What if they hear Paris in the winter
What if they hear England spitting him out
What if they hear him swimming
What if they hear Europe
What if they hear England saying come back
What if they hear him running
What if they hear the reason I'm here.

Jamal Mehmood