Around the corner from 193 Rye Lane, Peckham – Inua Ellams


– after London Riots.


In the slums I’m from
one horn player halts
to refill his slumped lungs
and blows from the dark

of an alley round the corner
from a shop still stuffed
with melted manikins
scorched plaster and soot

fall like whispers from
they who say he must
have fathered the child
who lit the torch that eve

of ripened anger, rough
lines drawn against
riot shields, missiles and
fists like scattered rain.

Me, I think him a stranger
who thinks it odd how gloom
exists this close to high streets
flickering, fat and drowned

with light; this close to
widescreens flashing cut-
throat tales of overnight
fame, fast cash stories glow

like false hope near boarded
youth centres, they glow
but don’t touch the growing
sense of loss perched

on estate walls, eyes sharp
and hood-hidden, tucked in
such gloom they search
for danger but this hour find:

a fox’s hushed ramble,
plastic bag – urban bramble
or further up, a lit joint
like a floating full stop.

He grips close his tube
of twisted metal (how snug
this instrument holds
our city’s soul) and pours

into it the growing breath
of loss. Out floats a song,
young, wild, confused
by reasons how it is

that our thriving city
starves some into madness.
He lifts his song up
over power lines, over

teaming junctions where
newspapers, cameras,
flatscreens, flash on.


© Inua Ellams. First published by RaedLeafPoetry-India 2013.


inua ellams


Inua Ellams was born in Nigeria in 1984 and moved to the UK as a child. Inua was the school’s outspoken, unofficial ambassador for black people the world over.  A poet, playwright, performer and graphic designer, Inua is a words-smith, pursuer and interloper traversing different worlds with rhythm and slice.  For More Click Here!

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