A sample of my more accessible poems below which covers some commissioned
poems and some poems that made it into individual collections
I was the only author commissioned to write a poem for the King’s Coronation Concert on Sunday 7th May 2023. The poem was read by James Nesbitt. I was invited to write the poem by the Palace and the BBC, and the poem was heard by an estimated audience of half a billion worldwide. The only brief I was given, to mention some of the landmarks that would be lit up. After the poem was read, all the landmarks were lit.
We’re Lighting Up The Nation
No one’s an island when each is at home
in the hope and glory! Born free – we’re a plucky bunch
of every shade. From the bronze of the Celts
across our Roman roads to Windrush and beyond,
today, just now, the spectacular parades of light
travelling from Windsor to iconic heartlands across the realm
so the kingdom be unified. Imagine Edinburgh Castle
near monuments for Scott and Burns, or imagine
across the waters of Belfast our titanic dockyard
and the blood-sweat, the toil that launched a thousand ships
over there’s Blackpool for Punch & Judy, glad rags
for the tango and foxtrot, and out for a pint of Newkie Brown
by the Gateshead Bridge, that harp of the Toon, the Tyne – it’s all mine
now all Yorkshire beams from the hall of seven-hilled Sheffield,
now my heart’s with the famed anthem, the land of my fathers
at Cardiff Millennium! Everywhere I look, from the golden
miles of Leicester with their chicken masalas and jollof rice
to an eco-haven amid the botanical gardens of Cambridge
like the oasis at Eden with its rainforest under a dome,
to our bold promise of the cliffs of Dover, everywhere I look,
within our shores, I feel a new phase, new chapter must begin,
just now, so let’s light up the nation like a smile!
A poem from British Museum which was commissioned by the Mansio Project in 2016
Around the old blown names
Birdoswald, Cawfields or Vindolanda,
each fortress and straight line of stone
partition was built by a zealous emperor
to keep out the barbarous.
I’ve come to this wall crowning England,
this symbol of divided man,
to honour the lineage of our tall ideals;
to ask, the more stacked, the more shielded
a haven, the cleaner the blood?
Where will our walls finally end? In
the gigabytes of our biometric online
lives, in our passports? To keep us
from trespass, will our walls be raised
watchful as the Great Firewall of China?
A commissioned poem for BBC1’s The One Show originally on 30/04/13
Ode to Harrow
All shades to the good in my heartfelt Harrow
with its Metropolitan Line for the sticks or the city!
Look at us side by side and mucking-in for the graft
for Harrow’s no one’s centre – everyone’s home!
Harrow is stalls bustling with enormous gourds,
aubergines and plantains! Harrow is Polski Sklep,
seasonal matzos, and the daily splash-island-song
of pomegranate, guava, melons and mangoes!
Harrow is ball-clacking shinty, cricket, bowls
and a workout for zumba, bhangra or freestyle!
Harrow is Diwali, Eidh, St Patricks, Channukah
alongside summers of jazzy razzamatazz melas!
These sepia shades of tall-trees and slant-parks
were home for Romantic Lord Byron, home too
for India’s jewel of Independence Jawaharlal Nehru
and we’ll fight on the beaches Winston Churchill!
Home too for our time-bending Roger Bannister –
imagine him pegging-it down the lanes for school
at Vaughan Primary where nowadays my daughters
are at home in the countries and continents of tongues!
May my children and all the children of Vaughan,
all who claim their origins from over the rainbow,
learn to love whatever is kaleidoscopic or contrary
in our youthful Harrow with its arms flying in the air!
from British Museum
The Vishnu of Wolverhampton
I always be Laxman the hobbler
who leave the open sewer, the lemon trees
at India’s independence
for a mill town of Kamloops
and onwards for the middle of the motherland.
Till they joke how far a mere hobbler is
stretch his legs
from one to the other end of the English Empire.
So what can it mean returning home?
Yet only yesterday I see a pink cloud lost
and though I never before –
I wave to it! I think it is my wife
Padma who passed away a life ago.
Padma come from the homeland these days
to check if I hang out my washing,
when I point to my handkerchiefs on the line
she is a beaming cloud with silk lining.
I always dream of the marriage night with Padma
how we never before have met
how we’re locked in our bedroom by the villagers
and the young girls in bare feet
who are all huddled and listening from the veranda.
How I’m trying to stand up proper manlike
but outside I feel is all one ear
even the jackal is quiet and ready to laugh.
And my bride stay sitting
on the side of our bed-to-be.
She is stick of bazaar-candy-pink,
from head to toe, I feel in my heart
she is pure, too pure.
And not very manlike am I
when I, when I drop my chaddar
and out come sticking my
legs, my hobbledehoy legs.
But my bride loosen her sari
and calm as Mother India,
Come to bed husband. I will love your legs.
Your legs are now my legs.
And in our love-trying and chuckling
she understand why I start to cry. I cry I love so much
my father. To win a wife for his cursed son
he become a man on his knees
and when he come up from the begging ground
he come up holding
She is a goddess I swear for any Rajah
but is happy with only Laxman the hobbler!
These days I am widow-white haired
and all my family have passed away:
cloud-cut for the monsoon mansions,
and in my dreams of Vishnu
I am ready to leave this skin for other skins.
My friend Ramlochan say, All gods is dead.
It always bastard rain!
I say, My dear Ramlochan, you always coming up dry.
In the eyes of our partition peoples
did we not have kismet of Rajahs?
Why you expect in Wolverhampton a heatwave?
Only this, I pray:
on my last day, my peoples
will light my sandalwood pyre.
From my flaming body at dawn
my soul is rise and rising become a pink cloud
flying to India where my Padma
is also a pink cloud hovering for me.
Just before our watering down into all-time waters,
for a long-time-no-one-seeing-us moment,
above a bank-side, above a fork tree
where the gods once straighten a cripple child,
Padma and I will come together.
From Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man-Eating Tiger-Toy Machine!!!
from The Balcony Song of Raju & Jaswinder
…won’t you come downstairs I’m caught in the rain
and I’ll stay here all day with my box of matyai
though your mum might be shocked by this shoe-caste boy
who’s squats in her oak by her bright golden gates.
Go away dirty boy, yoo is bad bad lover
we danced in di car to Bally Sagoo
on di way from Henley to Sutton Hoo
and I luv it up di flumes ov di Alton Tower!
Vut a summer it was when yoo teach me to kiss
or to walk wid yor hand and not blush in public,
den I hear how yoo bin through di ladies
like a rickshaw round New Delhi!
Well it’s true I went round the block with Bulwinder
I went with Kuswinder
I went with Subwinder
I even went to the mela with Ramwinder!
But their skirts were too short
and they loved their alcopops
they all chewed gum
and they swore too much
so none of these girls made me feel right inside.
Then one day standing out of the temple
the one to turn me fundamental
her hair was beehive’d
in a honey-coloured sari
it doesn’t take much to realise
it was you Jaswinder – you’re my Bollywood hotty!
Even though you’re the star of the landowner caste
only you take me back to my past.
Yoo is cute, such a cute, such a cute cute lad
but yoo act wid no bezti. And here in di West
can we be all one caste? If I speak to my dad
he may fast get me feathered in di uncle’s nest
in Baluchistan or in Pakistan
in Hindustan or in No-Woman-Staan!?
I regret my name was the cause of sharam
my honour is lost, I’m as foul as a harem,
a moral for randy young bloods
who go hot off the press when their fun is undone.
I regret getting stuck in the thickets with Mukjit
getting locked in the wicket with Jamjit
running up burns on the benches with Scarjit
being stung pulling thorns out of Bungjit.
So no more Puldeep or Sagdeep or Bagdeep
and no more Lukveer and no more Hotveer
only one name is true and it’s my Jaswinder!