Poets, not Athletes

I’m sharing this poem by Warsan Shire and the accompanying text by my secondary school English teacher (who is, of course, many more things than that, but from whom I still learn.

Our Man on the Horn

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‘Someone asked me, what would have been the make-up of your ideal platoon – athletes? No, I said: poets.’

  Sydney Jary, WW2 Platoon Commander

At times like these I would suggest we might do better to listen to the poets, rather than the politicians, the soldiers, the commentators et al. With that in mind, my favourite living poet, Warsan Shire, in the aftermath of the London riots:

what they did yesterday afternoon, by warsan shire

they set my aunts house on fire

i cried the way women on tv do

folding at the middle

like a five pound note.

i called the boy who use to love me

tried to ‘okay’ my voice

i said hello

he said warsan, what’s wrong, what’s happened?

i’ve been praying,

and these are what my prayers look like;

dear god

i come from two countries

one is thirsty

the other is on fire

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