Benjamin Zephaniah

(15 April 1958 / Birmingham)

The Death of Joy Gardner


They put a leather belt around her
13 feet of tape and bound her
Handcuffs to secure her
And only God knows what else,
She's illegal, so deport her
Said the Empire that brought her
She died,
Nobody killed her
And she never killed herself.
It is our job to make her
Return to Jamaica
Said the Alien Deporters
Who deports people like me,
It was said she had a warning
That the officers were calling
On that deadly July morning
As her young son watched TV.

An officer unplugged the phone
Mother and child were now alone
When all they wanted was a home
A child watch Mummy die,
No matter what the law may say
A mother should not die this way
Let human rights come into play
And to everyone apply.
I know not of a perfect race
I know not of a perfect place
I know this is not a simple case
Of Yardies on the move,
We must talk some Race Relations
With the folks from immigration
About this kind of deportation
If things are to improve.

Let it go down in history
The word is that officially
She died democratically
In 13 feet of tape,
That Christian was over here
Because pirates were over there
The Bible sent us everywhere
To make Great Britain great.
Here lies the extradition squad
And we should all now pray to God
That as they go about their job
They make not one mistake,
For I fear as I walk the streets
That one day I just may meet
Officials who may tie my feet
And how would I escape.

I see my people demonstrating
And educated folks debating
The way they're separating
The elder from the youth,
When all they are demanding
Is a little overstanding
They too have family planning
Now their children want the truth.
As I move around I am eyeing
So many poets crying
And so many poets trying
To articulate the grief,
I cannot help but wonder
How the alien deporters
(As they said to press reporters)
Can feel absolute relief.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Read poems about / on: july, warning, history, child, mother, family, people, grief, son, joy, children, truth, fear, god, home, alone, death

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Comments about this poem (The Death of Joy Gardner by Benjamin Zephaniah )

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  • Nuala Treacy (6/25/2005 5:25:00 PM)

    keep shouting Benjamin some of us are listening.
    Your language is yours and it cuts a white girl like me every time
    change for the better only happens slowly but it will happen (Report) Reply

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