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21ST-CENTURY POETRY Some Arabs Are Blue-Eyed

The Street Arabs are camping out in Bognor
Rolling out their cardboard carpets on the pavements
Of the pedestrianised street, grime-singed white rags
Wrapped round their heads like makeshift keffiyeh
To keep them cool, damp out the pounding sun;
Some improvise tents out of deconstructed boxes,
Sleeping bags for back-props like camel saddles
With canvas pads as makeshift chairs, or head-props;
Some bear complexions of burnt orange, others
Of leathery brown, they don’t want to get too
Tanned in case they rub the Bognor ‘Gammon’
Up the wrong way, whose umbrages are terrible,
Who labour under make-believe that ‘Brexit’ has banished
All immigrants, refugees, and beggarly Arabs;
Not Ali Baba but Al the Barber and his red-and-white-
Striped pole signposting he’s open for business once
The klaxon announces Close Sesame on incomers,
And Britain’s cast itself adrift and ‘taken back control’,
At least then the Street Arabs will all be Caucasians,
Many with eyes deep blue as their black passports –
Black or blue, it’s disputable, a moot point open to
Perceptions – but we digress as we regress, let us stress:
Henceforth it'll be British streets for British homeless…

Alan Morrison lives in Bognor Regis and his most recent poetry collection is Gum Arabic. 21st-century Poetry is edited by Andy Croft, email [email protected]


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