With You In Gaza

We are with you in GazaIMG_0260

Where UN resolutions are good for nothing

But stitching into tents for your refugees

Where schools and museums and family homes

Are legitimate targets

Because this is a war on history

A war on all memory

Of Palestine.

We are with you in Gaza

Where the free world spends more moneyIMG_0589

On weapons aimed at you than it spends feeding Africa

Where waterless, powerless streets

Are crammed with ghosts

And throng with the spirits of millions

Of Palestinians living now in exile

But whose hearts are with you in Gaza.

We are with you in Gaza

Where the West’s unblinking eyes

Still see no apartheid beyond the wall15472940762_7832bec7a2_k

That 430 mile concrete wall

Segregating rights-bearing citizens from the unpeople

Never mind Mandela, that canonised freedom fighter

Who said the war on apartheid was still on

Until freedom for Palestine too was won.

We are with you in Gaza

Where your family grew as old as the olive grove

Until the tanks came, and the branchesIMG_0882

Were crushed as quick as human bone

As the UN, which once owned

And gave away half of Palestine

Now inquires and condemns

And draws green lines.

We are with you in Gaza

Where your babies are born at checkpoints

And called terrorists before their mothers name them

Where they inherit their grandparents’ nightmaresIMG_1669

And the monsters they draw are real

And have no trouble sleeping

Safe in the knowledge that they fight for democracy

(A democracy which ignores elections, draws borders round its majority

And beats its own citizens for protesting Zionist brutality).

We are with you in Gaza

Where you see this man here,

He talked liberation for sixty years15450211216_79e80d1f35_k

Put flesh between hope and bullets for sixty years

Held his dignity like a shield but died in poverty

Without justice or autonomy

Leaving children who dream only

Of a brother returned from the cells

The silent, unaccountable cells that

Read no rights and appoint no lawyers

And need no jury to sanction suffering.

We are with you in Gaza15286578890_f9dbee080a_k

Where Western weapons roar

While Western leaders her no evil

Speak no evil – speak only of a peace process

Which mocks the term

What peace without justice?

What process between Gaza and Goliath?

Double speak, double speak,15286677487_5c6a19a26a_k

Is ‘peace process’ just UN speak for ‘well-mannered genocide’?

We are with you in Gaza

Unlike the liberal media

Where a hundred years of oppression

Is redacted and sound bitten

We are shamed by our anger

And angered by our shame – explain?

Ashamed to rage at Goliath when his banker lives in Westminster

Anger at the atrocities bankrolled in our name.IMG_0895

We are with you in Gaza

Where a monsoon of shells flood

The alleys of Al Shujaya with civilian blood

Where the children are coming home legless

Or headless, were helpless

As you feel now, curled up like a child

As the grief pours in,

As we feel now, beyond the sea,

Standing with our candles15286642488_710784d69b_k

As we cry

We will not let Gaza die!

(Not that Gaza is waiting on us to fight

For her survival)

But we are with you in Gaza

We have been every day

Since 1948

Gaza, we are marching

Gaza, we are chanting

Gaza, we are divesting

They said the old would die and the young would forget

But we still read the names of your dead15286361499_e97d09c78b_k

Nidal aged five

Mohammed, fifteen

Riad, fifty

Hussein, thirteen

Salah, six

Ali, only yesterday, only eighteen months.

And what of the killers, of the IDF?

They traumatise and maim and kill15473213335_659acc18d8_k

But they regret

Almost with the vigour they forget

Civilian death

Oh, but the moment every Palestinian’s gone

Or bends the knee

Then, they say, there can be peace!

How simple

How civilised things might be…


All photography my own


The movement moves    11332102773_095868ce73_o (2)


There’s a patchwork of placards

And a river of marchers

Flowing by the Thames

And the endless succession

Of classrooms and basements and bars

Where we devised the making of a new world.

‘Stronger together, shoulder to shoulder’20121015_132333

Impeccable logic

But sooner or later

You also have to stand alone

And suddenly, everything’s slow.

Heart thunders in my ears,

Utterly legless but pulled up by my

Grandmother’s hands and jostled

By the ghosts of my class to SPEAK!

To say something, point somewhere,

Anywhere but backwards

In the face of all this savagery,

The manifestation of all they warned

Capital would be

And already seeping into the bones

Of the Next Generation.

Hate to say it because, you know,11332022973_eb31ab6ea7_o (2)

“Pessimism of the intellect optimism of the will”

But it probably isn’t never too late

For the Beast to be killed

So we sort of need to move on this…

And it’s not like I had nothing to say

(How can anyone who’s seen any of this

Have nothing to say?)

So I stood

And my Nanna’s invisible shoulderIMG_0489

Kept me upright:

“We’ve had enough of the bombing

And the lying and the thieving

And of living in a world where

Nothing is held sacred

Nothing is free

From the mechanised grip

Of the Company

Of the politics of hate

And the economy of madness20121020_134224

That consumes all matter

And tosses it like so many

Dead bodies on the

Altar of Infinite Growth.

The Priests of Progress

Gather around their acronyms

And their projections

(Which never go down)

And perform voodoo

Against the body politic

Feeding the market on human flesh

Chanting constantly

About the End of History.IMG_9691

We’ve had enough of that too

What an insult!

This, the end of the line?

This violent, garish,

Poisonous mess,

This all-encompassing apartheid

Of all people from all people

And the planet

And from knowledge?

This carnival of spiteful caricatures

That calls itself a ‘discourse’

Little more than a

Chorus of slogans masquerading as

Free expression?


Enough of that too.

Don’t talk to us about freedom

From the Penthouse Suite on the 43rd floor

You, who climbed up there

On the backs of blacks,

And the dreams of great women,

And the fingers of the factory kids,

And kicked away the ladder,

Now you’re going to talk about

‘Natural inequality’?

Ten thousand years of darkness dispelled20121020_163908

By… ‘equal opportunity’?

And opportunity to what?

Climb over each other to kiss the ring?

Trade ipods for the right to sing?

Drop democracy for the right to vote?

Settle for this

And surrender hope?

The prince of Wall Street20121021_153905

His Priests of Progress assure us

History is ended and we have no choice

But not

While we still have a voice.


All photography my own.

Solidarity تضامن


Is not something you discuss over dinner

It is not a hypothetical position to be

Defended on theoretical chessboards

It is not an artful argument

It does more than merely ‘strike a chord’


Is not the sum of its facebook likes

It is not painting your face for the day

We Were All Palestinians

Then pressing play on real life

And pause on the siege

Till the next time Gaza bleeds


Lives in blood and bone

It’s the calling of another land your home

Just because it’s here on planet earth

The calling of another’s brother kin

Just because he’s here on planet earth

And we have some power and freedom here

For what it’s worth

And if there be such a thing

This killing is a sin

And so is silence


Is a reflex that can’t be curbed by convenience

Feet that march till the tanks stop

Voices chanting till the lies stop

Eyes still open till the killings stop

A full, heavy silence for the naming of the dead

Then no justice, no peace –

Hands off the Middle East!PR9A2036

For Ali Saad Dawabsheh

All photography my own

The Good Ones Go First

No good deed goes unpunished

In this topsy turvy place

The wrong people in power, in prison,

In the breadline, losing face.

I put two parents in the ground by 24

Their ghosts march with me, young no more,

For I have learned, we’re not cursed

We just live in a world where the good ones go first.


The NHS, it did its best

But bound and gagged and laid to rest

It just aint what it used to be

So the cuts cut up our families.

Yet you ask why we smash a few windows?

Why we bang on the Parliament doors?

“We’re dying out here, sirs,

And the good ones are going down first

So please sir, can we have some more

Of what’s rightfully ours?”


I loved a boy that stood for justice

And was taken down for nothing,

They take your freedom if you use it

And call power out on suffering.

Cops can bash kids’ heads in and go home to their wives

While our boys stare through bars, left behind by their lives

Watching futures fall down cos they took a slip back

Took some cash to get by or took a stand while black

He’s not cursed – it’s just the good ones go first.


I loved a girl that cared too much

And means the world to me,

They say she’s sick because she strains

To accept a sick society.

But we’ve got pills for that now, don’t we?

Drug em up, lock em up and teach them how to sleep inside,

To swallow the dose of apathy prescribed

Till they forget they ever dreamed of being free,

Just so long as they sit their SATs

And put down their aspirations as they leave.

And we’ve got legions of these kids behind white walls

Cutting themselves up because life is pain, not airbrushed and glossy

And the TV made them hate themselves

And now, they can’t see their own beauty.

She’s not cursed – the good ones just go first.


I love a woman and her children

Imprisoned back at home

Who were bullied and broken

And left all alone

She gave her life to raise them right on stormy seas

But that’s not labour or sacrifice the economy sees

So when she found the courage to run and the strength to go on

She wound up at the food bank, black eyed daughter, frightened son.

Apparently, the state just doesn’t have resources for that

After the bonuses, bailouts, bombs and other crap.

It’s not them, they’re not cursed – the good ones go first.


I loved a survivor, silent for a year,

Carrying her rapist’s shame for him was the worst

But that’s what we do: “shouldn’t have said that, gone there, worn that skirt.”

And no one ever made her feel strong a day in her life

And the greatest dream she inherited was to be a rich woman’s wife

Now she’s explaining to ATOS why she’s too scared to work

“Well you’re 17 and out of school,” they smirk.

But I promise her through gritted teeth

She isn’t cursed or weak

She’s good – and the good ones go first.


I’ve loved brothers and sisters in detention camps,

Queuing for clean water and sleeping on gym floors,

And feared and hated all because

They fled from brutal wars,

Risked everything on that crossing I’ve seen take so many souls

Just to run into barbed wire, tear gas and concrete walls.

We’d sit on the lifejacket beaches and

I’d think of the good ones back home when they’d ask

If it would be ok when they reached London

Or was this the will of God or Allah?

And some days I couldn’t answer

Without breaking my own heart.


There’s no water that can ever

Wash a system like this clean

But I have seen us building something better

On the streets and in my dreams,

While they ask why we smash a few windows,

Why we bang on the Parliament doors,

“We’re dying out here, sirs,

And the good ones are going down first

But if you’d just shut up and listen

You’d hear us coming for what’s ours

The good ones will cross the threshold first

And in their footprints, new grown grass.”