Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

‘Not Harlem but Close’: a poem by Idman Omar

Photo by Ben Allan on Unsplash


    Not Harlem but Close


The place that produced me was
heavy as the heavens.
Its tiger tooth pinched monthly,
sinking into us one bill at a time
we emptied our pockets and dreams
into a concrete bowl and ate the
contents. The
ceiling peeled, it seemed to lower
each morning, overcast.
The walls of the block rocked. It
was a cradle of culture, a home for
even the trees were wild and in need of
money. The
was evil, moulding homes,
rotting teeth and speech
turning you black.
The stairs always looked exhausted
like mum, pleats of
buildings compensating
becoming a baby city - so many births
to challenge deficit. Numbers
on our doors, the
number of reasons
why we were put there. One being
war didn’t want us either. The night
sank into the boys,
naturally high, the colour of
a tired sky, of darkness that
rubbed off on them when they
prowled in the dark and
fought themselves. We
couldn’t afford to die with them.
Funerals are too expensive.