Off the Beaten Track

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Call us Birmingham;
In the heart of England formed,
Though to our hearts content we’ve roamed,
But no place gave us a place like home,
Nor so much more in time and space,
To such a fathomless degree,
That now we own the whole of Birmingham,
Or does the whole of Birmingham own me?
Call us Birmingham;
For they know us well far across the earth,
But I doubt as much they’ve ever heard,
From where some of us true Brummies emerge…
Well bred like those migrating birds,
And on these hybrid grounds converged,
Some settled here in Birmingham,
On sites now well known as
‘Little India’ or ‘Mini-Pakistan’,
Call us Birmingham,
Although a little off the beaten track,
Some of us have grown up in Alum Rock,
Where the schools we went to weren’t so fancy in fact,
But rather they were more for the underprivileged,
Not a place you’d expect to produce polished poets,
(Where if you were ever seen,
Upon the scene by your Aunty,
It would make headlining news,
At the core of your community…)
So Poetry may be the last thing on your mind,
When ducking and diving each scene of a crime;
‘Hey Baby, your bum looks so big in that!’
Yes.
This is the side of Birmingham,
‘What’s On’ magazine will have forgot,
But call us Birmingham;
Because it’s from the darkest coal mines,
Dearest diamonds do dawn,
Given the right time – enough pressure,
Precious people are reborn,
So let’s go off the beaten track,
Let’s celebrate Lozells, Handsworth,
Newtown and even Alum Rock,
For, it’s high time we stand up and say,
You cannot take our pride away,
For these parts make Birmingham come alive and play.
Though some parts of ‘us’ may not always be pretty,
They seem to make a big part of one of our greatest cities,
So call us Birmingham,
Call us Birmingham,
Call us Birmingham,
Here I Am..!
For it’s all of ‘us’ that make Birmingham,
It’s all of ‘us’ that make Birmingham,
It’s all of ‘us’ that make Birmingham,
A rich and colourful part of this glorious green land.

*entry for Birmingham Poet Laureate, 2103/14 (didn’t make it this year)

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