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Hackney Writers

16 / 20 Well Here We Are: Morningside School

Well here we are
this is England
Waterloo Station
where two taxis
carted us through
the bright streets
where paradise is paved
and the grass is fenced off
waterloo station
fast train from Southampton
slow boat from Antigua
and paradise is so dirty
where two rooms serve as home
in one we slept
and in the other we
watched TV
there we argued
and fought
and it’s cold
the toilet’s at the bottom of the garden
no flowers there
just bits of old furniture
and cast off mattresses blocking the way
and you step over
or around them.

Well here you are
this is your new school
there is but one other Black boy
you speak rarely
and when you do
the answer is inevitable
'pardon, I can’t understand you'
so you don’t speak
and hope a smile will suffice
but wind blows cold up your short pants
and you cry as the cold bites your fingers
and the taunts
and the fights
and the punishments
then you realise how lonely one can be
when you are far away from home
even when surrounded by many
even in paradise.'

by Hugh Boatswain.

Hugh attended Morningside Primary School when he arrived in England from Antigua as an eight-year-old boy. He published many poems with the Centerprise Young Writers.

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Illustration from Talking Blues, an anthology of Centerprise young writers, 1976 © Doffy Weir