Tuesday Poem: Birmingham

I think most Tuesday Poets know the outstanding body of work of the English Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. Most readers around the world will also have heard about the recent riots in England. But perhaps not everyone will know of the dignified courage of the community leader Tariq Jahan in Birmingham, whose beloved son Haroon and his two young friends, Shezad and Abdul, were murdered by a hit and run driver during the troubles in their city.

Carol Ann Duffy wrote this to honour their memory. As Mark Antony said in Julius Caesar, “If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.”

Birmingham
by Carol Ann Duffy

for Tariq Jahan

After the evening prayers at the mosque,
came the looters in masks,
and you three stood,
beloved in your neighbourhood,
brave, bright brothers,
to be who you were –
a hafiz is one who has memorised
the entire Koran;
a devout man –
then the man in the speeding car
who purposefully mounted the kerb …

I think we should all kneel
on that English street,
where he widowed your pregnant wife, Shazad,
tossed your soul into the air, Abdul,
and brought your father, Haroon, to his knees,
his face masked in only your blood
on the rolling news
where nobody’s children riot and burn.

For more Tuesday poems go to the main hub site, where there is a lead poem posted each week. Further poems can be found on the blogs of the Tuesday poet members, in the sidebar.

6 Responses to “Tuesday Poem: Birmingham”

  1. alicia ponder Says:

    So sad,
    & such a poignant last line
    thanks for posting.

  2. admin Says:

    Yes, she’s such a fine poet isn’t she? I dunno how you can write something like this “to order”.

  3. Helen Lowe Says:

    Thank you for posting this very powerful poem, Belinda: to write something like this, I don’t think it can possibly come ‘to order’—to be this strong, it has to come from the heart.

  4. admin Says:

    You’re right of course – I was only thinking of the problems of being Poet Laureate, but Carol Ann Duffy seems to have that particular burden firmly in her control. What a woman! what a poet!

  5. mary mccallum Says:

    Thank you, Belinda. Duffy is an astonishing talent and the perfect Poet Laureate who has the skill to write poems on the wing of the times. This has so many perfect lines – what got me: ‘beloved in your neighbourhood’, ‘we should all kneel/ on that English street…’

  6. admin Says:

    I love your ‘wing of the times’, Mary. She has such a sense of pace, doesn’t she? It’s the last line’s reference to “nobody’s children” that most speaks to my heart.

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