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21ST-CENTURY POETRY The Right to Remain by Sophie Sparham

Silence is a bullet that my taxes paid for,
A Judas kiss, gifted to black Jesus as he
Bleeds out on the sidewalk and we profit a
Vineyard out of him. My quiet, a boot to his
Neck, a fire to her house, a question swinging
From a tree. Won’t somebody speak? Silence

Is not a right when all your teeth have been
Punched out, your tongue tear gassed and your
Hope murdered. When your body is a protest,
Living in a country that raped the freedom
Out of you.  
My ears mourn, they can’t bury another
Voice. So now I cry with my teeth, let this fist  
Become a eulogy, let me raise it like a flag.
Make no mistake, they want you chalk white,
An outline on concrete, a space,
Where a body once stood.

Writer Sophie Sparham is from Derby and has written commissions for BBC Radio 4, The V&A and the People’s History Museum. 21st-century Poetry is edited by Andy Croft, email


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