16+ Best Benjamin Zephaniah Poems You Should Read Right Now

Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah is a British writer, dub poet and Rastafarian. He was included in The Times list of Britain’s top 50 post-war writers in 2008.

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Famous Benjamin Zephaniah Poems

The British

Take some Picts, Celts and Silures
And let them settle,
Then overrun them with Roman conquerors.

Remove the Romans after approximately 400 years
Add lots of Norman French to some
Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Vikings, then stir vigorously.

Mix some hot Chileans, cool Jamaicans, Dominicans,
Trinidadians and Bajans with some Ethiopians, Chinese,
Vietnamese and Sudanese.

Then take a blend of Somalians, Sri Lankans, Nigerians
And Pakistanis,
Combine with some Guyanese
And turn up the heat.

Sprinkle some fresh Indians, Malaysians, Bosnians,
Iraqis and Bangladeshis together with some
Afghans, Spanish, Turkish, Kurdish, Japanese
And Palestinians
Then add to the melting pot.

Leave the ingredients to simmer.

As they mix and blend allow their languages to flourish
Binding them together with English.

Allow time to be cool.

Add some unity, understanding, and respect for the future,
Serve with justice
And enjoy.

Note: All the ingredients are equally important. Treating one ingredient better than another will leave a bitter unpleasant taste.

Warning: An unequal spread of justice will damage the people and cause pain. Give justice and equality to all.

The Race Industry

The coconuts have got the jobs.
The race industry is a growth industry.
We despairing, they careering.
We want more peace they want more police.
The Uncle Toms are getting paid.
The race industry is a growth industry.
We say sisters and brothers don’t fear.
They will do anything for the Mayor.
The coconuts have got the jobs.
The race industry is a growth industry.
They’re looking for victims and poets to rent.
They represent me without my consent.
The Uncle Toms are getting paid.
The race industry is a growth industry.
In suits they dither in fear of anarchy.
They take our sufferings and earn a salary.
Steal our souls and make their documentaries.
Inform daily on our community.
Without Black suffering they’d have no jobs.
Without our dead they’d have no office.
Without our tears they’d have no drink.
If they stopped sucking we could get justice.
The coconuts are getting paid.
Men, women and Brixton are being betrayed.

White Comedy

I waz whitemailed
By a white witch,
Wid white magic
An white lies,
Branded by a white sheep
I slaved as a whitesmith
Near a white spot
Where I suffered whitewater fever.
Whitelisted as a whiteleg
I waz in de white book
As a master of white art,
It waz like white death.

People called me white jack
Some hailed me as a white wog,
So I joined de white watch
Trained as a white guard
Lived off the white economy.
Caught and beaten by de whiteshirts
I waz condemned to a white mass,
Don’t worry,
I shall be writing to de Black House.

Everybody Is Doing It

In Hawaii they Hula
They Tango in Argentina
They Reggae in Jamaica
And they Rumba down in Cuba,
In Trinidad and Tobago
They do the Calypso
And in Spain the Spanish
They really do Flamenco.

In the Punjab they Bhangra
How they dance Kathak in India
Over in Guatemala
They dance the sweet Marimba,
Even foxes dance a lot
They invented the Fox Trot,
In Australia it’s true
They dance to the Didgeridoo.

In Kenya they Benga
They Highlife in Ghana
They dance Ballet all over
And Rai dance in Algeria,
They Jali in Mali
In Brazil they Samba
And the girls do Belly Dancing
In the northern parts of Africa.

Everybody does the Disco
From Baghdad to San Francisco
Many folk with razzamataz
Cannot help dancing to Jazz,
They do the Jig in Ireland
And it is really true
They still Morris dance in England
When they can find time to.”

Who’s Who

I used to think nurses
Were women,
I used to think police
Were men,
I used to think poets
Were boring,
Until I became one of them.

De Rong Song

Your house is
Falling down
Around
Your
Feet,
And you got
Nought
To eat,
Don’t worry
Be happy.
Your fish
Have drowned
You wear
A frown,
You search
But you don’t
Own a pound,
Don’t worry
Be happy.

You ain’t got
Nowhere to
Play,
Just balconies
And
Motorways,
Don’t worry
Be happy.

You meet
Someone
You really like,
They tell you to
Get on your bike,
Don’t worry
Be happy.

You’re on your bike
And all is fine,
You get caught
In a washing line,
Don’t worry
Be happy.
You go to school
The school is
Gone,
The Government
Put pressure on,
Don’t worry
Be happy.
Your tea is
Dry
Your ice is
Hot,
Your head is
Tied up in a
Not,
Don’t worry
Be happy.
You worry
Because
You’re hurrying,
And hurry
Because
You’re worrying,
Don’t happy
Be worried.

Wot A Pair

I waz walking down Wyefront street
When me trousers ran away,
I waz feeling incomplete
But still me trousers would not stay,
When I found where they had gone
De pair addressed me rather blunt,
And they told me they were sick of being put on
Back to front.

I told dem I would treat dem good
And wear dem back to back,
I promised dem protection
From a friend who is a mac,
Me trousers did not believe a single word I had to say,
And me underpants were laughing
When me trousers ran away.

Neighbours

I am the type you are supposed to fear
Black and foreign
Big and dreadlocks
An uneducated grass eater.

I talk in tongues
I chant at night
I appear anywhere,
I sleep with lions
And when the moon gets me
I am a Wailer.

I am moving in
Next door to you
So you can get to know me,
You will see my shadow
In the bathroom window,
My aromas will occupy
Your space,
Our ball will be in your court.
How will you feel?

You should feel good
You have been chosen.

I am the type you are supposed to love
Dark and mysterious
Tall and natural
Thinking, tea total.
I talk in schools
I sing on TV
I am in the papers,
I keep cool cats

And when the sun is shining
I go Carnival.

Fair Play

Mirror mirror on the wall
Could you please return our ball
Our football went through your crack
You have two now
Give one back.

What Stephen Lawrence Has Taught Us

We know who the killers are,
We have watched them strut before us
As proud as sick Mussolinis’,
We have watched them strut before us
Compassionless and arrogant,
They paraded before us,
Like angels of death
Protected by the law.

It is now an open secret
Black people do not have
Chips on their shoulders,
They just have injustice on their backs
And justice on their minds,
And now we know that the road to liberty
Is as long as the road from slavery.

The death of Stephen Lawrence
Has taught us to love each other
And never to take the tedious task
Of waiting for a bus for granted.
Watching his parents watching the cover-up
Begs the question
What are the trading standards here?
Why are we paying for a police force
That will not work for us?

The death of Stephen Lawrence
Has taught us
That we cannot let the illusion of freedom
Endow us with a false sense of security as we walk the streets,
The whole world can now watch
The academics and the super cops
Struggling to define institutionalised racism
As we continue to die in custody
As we continue emptying our pockets on the pavements,
And we continue to ask ourselves
Why is it so official
That black people are so often killed
Without killers?

We are not talking about war or revenge
We are not talking about hypothetics or possibilities,
We are talking about where we are now
We are talking about how we live now
In dis state
Under dis flag, (God Save the Queen),
And God save all those black children who want to grow up
And God save all the brothers and sisters
Who like raving,
Because the death of Stephen Lawrence
Has taught us that racism is easy when
You have friends in high places.
And friends in high places
Have no use whatsoever
When they are not your friends.

Dear Mr Condon,
Pop out of Teletubby land,
And visit reality,
Come to an honest place
And get some advice from your neighbours,
Be enlightened by our community,
Neglect your well-paid ignorance
Because
We know who the killers are.

Vegan Steven

There was a young vegan
Called Steven,
Who just would not kill for no reason,
This kid would not eat
No cheese or no meat
And he hated the foxhunting season.

Eat Your Words

I am a veggie table
A table made of veg,
There’s so much fruit upon me
All living on the edge,
Life is hard
But so are plates
And tea can be quite hot,
And vegetarian poets
Make me nervous quite a lot.

The Death Of Joy Gardner

They put a leather belt around her
13 feet of tape and bound her
Handcuffs to secure her
And only God knows what else,
She’s illegal, so deport her
Said the Empire that brought her
She died,
Nobody killed her
And she never killed herself.
It is our job to make her
Return to Jamaica
Said the Alien Deporters
Who deports people like me,
It was said she had a warning
That the officers were calling
On that deadly July morning
As her young son watched TV.

An officer unplugged the phone
Mother and child were now alone
When all they wanted was a home
A child watch Mummy die,
No matter what the law may say
A mother should not die this way
Let human rights come into play
And to everyone apply.
I know not of a perfect race
I know not of a perfect place
I know this is not a simple case
Of Yardies on the move,
We must talk some Race Relations
With the folks from immigration
About this kind of deportation
If things are to improve.

Let it go down in history
The word is that officially
She died democratically
In 13 feet of tape,
That Christian was over here
Because pirates were over there
The Bible sent us everywhere
To make Great Britain great.
Here lies the extradition squad
And we should all now pray to God
That as they go about their job
They make not one mistake,
For I fear as I walk the streets
That one day I just may meet
Officials who may tie my feet
And how would I escape.

I see my people demonstrating
And educated folks debating
The way they’re separating
The elder from the youth,
When all they are demanding
Is a little overstanding
They too have family planning
Now their children want the truth.
As I move around I am eyeing
So many poets crying
And so many poets trying
To articulate the grief,
I cannot help but wonder
How the alien deporters
(As they said to press reporters)
Can feel absolute relief.

Ride

We first met on a golden night
As the moon radiated love light
On the dock of the bay.
Somewhere between the real deal and an illusion
We lay unapologetically
Stroking each others lack of responsibility.

‘I want to be a poet,’
She said looking over the mountain,
‘I want to be a hippy,’
She said checking out me natty dread,
‘I want to be political,’
She whispered as she admired my scars,
‘I may not look it, but I’m really oppressed,’
She said smiling,
Handing me her welfare book.

The sea lassoed the shore
Time and night hovered towards daylight
And bellyfilled foxes sniffed their way home.
She put the blanket over her head
Farted, and fell asleep.

The next time I saw her
She was trying to find The Goddess of Plenty,
Desperately seeking the freeway
And after me money.
‘It’s different for women,’ she said
‘We can use men for their bodies
Men do it to us all the time.’
The next time I saw her
She ran over me with her wheelchair.

Vegan Steven’s Vegan Clothes

Remember that vegan called Steven
Yes he would not kill for no reason,
Well I saw him today
Wearing nothing I say
But some cabbage leaves
With a few peas on.

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