Poem: Raise You

I generally veer away from letting my poetry get too explicitly political, just because I’ve seen it done really badly, but.. this one escaped. I’ve performed this a few times and it’s always gone down a storm, but I’m not sure about the performance-to-page transition (or, frankly, the punctuation) – all feedback appreciated.

All instances named in this poem are from real life (though they didn’t all happen to me.)

Raise You

We say “the owners of this shop have dodged six billion in tax – almost exactly the same amount which is currently being cut from disability benefits and people are dying as a result. These guys should pay their tax. It would actually save lives if these guys paid their tax.”
You say we’re intimidating shoppers.

We say “stop the arms trade! In this building right here, right now, people are making deals to sell arms to corrupt regimes who will use those weapons on civilians.”
You say we’re causing a breach of the peace.

I say “that’s my bike chain. See my bike helmet? See my bike? That’s my sodding bike chain.”
You say I’m carrying a weapon.

But we’ll see your bullshit
And we’ll raise you.

We’ll raise our voices, we’ll raise our fists
We’ll raise teams of legal observers to march in our midsts
We’ll raise awkward questions and what’s more as well
We’ll see your bullshit
We’ll call your bullshit
And we’ll raise hell.

Of course you’ll see this and you’ll raise us
But we knew you would: it doesn’t phase us
It’s a challenge that we’ll gladly take
‘Cause there’s more than your inconvenience at stake:
You only do this ’cause you’re paid by the hour
While it’s justice that calls us to speak truth to power.

And we’ll raise petitions, we’ll raise court cases
We’ll raise placards and tents and occupy your spaces
And more than that we’ll raise our sights
‘Cause you only want us to go away;
We want justice, fairness and human rights.

And you’ll see what we do and again you’ll raise us
And it’s a pain in the arse but it doesn’t phase us
Because of stop and search we won’t carry ID
But our words and our message and our feet will run free
And you’ll use whatever you can to shut us up
– because that’s just what you do –
But we’ll see your bullshit
We’ll call your bullshit,
And believe us: we will raise you.

Dedicated to Commanders Mick Johnson and Bob Broadhurst of the Metropolitan Police.


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