“Bold Lily Buds No. 1” © Bonnie Matthews Brock


Caught in the Hustle

At sixteen the boy in front of me, was yanked back and stabbed
Chest, stomach, lungs,
Diagnosed PTSD
The justifications, my convictions
Not that I was left to die in the children’s hospital
But you see philosophy has never been my expertise
What I see, I believe.

Living in survival mode since the day we were born
I want nothing more than to see, the mandem safe in their homes
Finding their body parts in gutter holes,
How Boris has majority of the nation, fighting against us
Stuck in our own, self-made oppression.

Did that leave an impression?
Did it resemble, Mohammad Abdulla Al-Maahir’s reaction?

At a glance, we’re failures
Good for nothing, dirty, terrorists,
Ignorant to what death can cause
They sit in parliament chanting.
Your mother’s a whore, your father’s a pervert, for God’s sake
          go back home!

You’ve never come from a place, where you either starve or die
The only thing you’ve seen is my sister with a letterbox for eyes.
Your white hands beating us with words, your ancestors devised.

A girl can dream of freedom – can’t she?

I can’t pretend I’ve never picked up the knife,
Ignorant to what death can cause
Sitting in the aftermath wondering,
What have I done to deserve this life?
Waking up strangling my bedsheets, don’t tell me it’s easy to make it off
          the streets.

I want to use this, to redirect the younger generation.
Their attitude screaming,
Fuck the consequences and the sentence!
I try and save ‘em,
Kid you do this and there’s no going back, your ears will be burdened by
          the white man’s laugh.

It hurts me to even mention that my people lack ambition,
I don’t blame ‘em,
It’s how they make ‘em.
They lack the ambition to be more, than the inside of a kitchen,
More than their father’s weapon,
Grew up with a pencil and silent words.
Unlike my mate whose deadbeat father, triggered a police raid in the
          early hours.
A woman can be honest – can’t she?
I wanna show ‘em that they have a choice
They will always have a choice,
To become the people, they glue onto their mouldy walls,
To become the name, people chant just before you receive your award,
I want to tell them that my sister, you don’t have to go behind
          the dumpster with him

Nine months later,

Push out baby Abdul.

You’re stressed about money, food and rent
The father cradling his bullet wound, nesting in his chest.

My brothers, you don’t have to bear the walls of your fathers
carrying ammunition
It’s not always about redemption
Running through the back streets firing and stabbing
Two days later you’re in hand cuffs,
trying hard not to remember, this is the life of a gang member.

However, on the inside you surrender.

Your ears perk up, as the jury delivers your cell number.
Ignorant to what death can cause.

How we rest in pride, it kills us.

I will always be on your side of life,
Reminding you that your teachers, never tried hard enough to believe
          in you.
The education system is not in our favour
If only you knew
For this I apologise, you deserved better.

The system will never be in our favour.

For this is the reason why I had to leave – exhausted by the streets,
Encouraging myself to believe, in a dark future with no gratification,
jumping from profession to profession,
Job titles I never wanted from the beginning.

Moving out to white boy area, I still attract the feds
No such thing as the day of rest
Chased and beaten – role-playing; Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and

This prison was never non-existent,
Just waiting for the owner to return, from her imagination.

The sound of young Abdul, getting rushed on his way home from school,
They call him lil orphan fool,
Left him in his bloody pool.

A brown girl could never make any of this up.


Nazesh Safdar’s poetry has appeared in publications such as Ghost Heart Literary Journal. She is currently completing her postgraduate studies in Creative Writing at the University of Lincoln. You can find me on Instagram at Nazesh Safdar and Twitter @nazeshsafdar.
Thank you for the opportunity

Bonnie Matthews Brock is a Florida-based photographer, as well as school psychologist. She enjoys capturing raw single-capture photos of a wide variety of subjects, and learning and experimenting with shooting techniques such as long-exposure and intentional camera movement, as well as with editing methods. You can find Bonnie’s images on the covers of publications such as Ibbetson Street, Poesy Magazine, and Wild Roof Journal, and on the pages of Oddball Magazine, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, Ember Chasm Review, Beaver Magazine, and Unstamatic. Her works are archived at institutions such as Poets House NYC, Brown University, University of Buffalo, and Harvard University.