Friday 8 December 2023

What If...

If you can keep your money when governments about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust your neighbour when they trust not you
And they be very nosy too;
If you can await the warm delights of summer
Then summer comes and goes with sun not seen,
And pay so much for drinking water
Knowing that the water is unclean.

If you seek peace in times of war creation,
And you can see that oil merchants are to blame,
If you can meet a pimp or politician,
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you cannot bear dis-united nations
And you think this new world order is a trick,
If you've ever tried to build good race relations,
And watch bad policing mess your work up quick.

If you can make one heap of all your savings
And risk buying a small house and plot,
Then sit back and watch the economy inflating
Then have to deal with the negative equity you've got;
If you can force your mind and body to continue
When all the social services have gone,
If you struggle on when there is nothing in you,
Except the knowledge that justice can be wrong.

If you can speak the truth to common people
Or walk with Kings and Queens and live no lie,
If you can see how power can be evil
And know that every censor is a spy;
If you can fill an unforgiving lifetime
With years of working hard to make ends meet,
You may not be wealthy but I am sure you will find
That you can hold your head high as you walk the streets.

 [from Too Black, Too Strong, pub, 2009]

RIP Benjamin Zephaniah, poet, actor, passionate campaigner. A man who genuinely cared for others, and fought for justice. He will be missed, his poems will live on.


  1. It is so sad!!! He was brilliant and I lived his poems, especially Sonnets in my Bonnet one and Talking Turkeys! Kxx

    1. Talking Turkeys may feature here in coming days

  2. Devastated to read of his death yesterday.
    Terribly sad news. He was a wonderful poet and a kind, thoughtful man full of honesty and self awareness.
    Rest in Peace Benjamin Zephaniah or as Michael Rosen wrote yesterday Rest in Power.

    1. Michael Rosen's tribute was thoughtful, generous and very well written

  3. Saddened to hear of Benjamin Zepahaniahs early death. An important voice at a time when it is needed more than ever.

  4. First time I'm hearing of him and his poetry.

    1. Check him out - he wrote some good stuff

  5. Sadly even more pertinent in 2023 than when it was written in 2009.

  6. So sad to read yesterday of his death. Thanks for posting his poem-it’s my favourite of the many he wrote.

  7. I hadn't heard of him and I find the "What if..." poem very negative, but I looked up "Talking Turkeys" and I love the way it is written in dialect.

    1. Sadly the What If poem reflects the current state of our government

  8. So sad, but am glad his words will live on.


  9. Thank you for this tribute. For a citizenship lesson on diversity I would use The British, which is a very apt poem for our country at this time.


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