‘There they are, thirty at the corner, black raw ready sores in the city that do not want to heal.” Gwendolyn Brooks (1987) The Blackstone Rangers.’

They were teaching me how to roll up. There,
on the swings, everyone was learning. They
were grey Pitbulls going for an un-bagged shit. ‘Are
we drinking enough?’ One asks, as thirty
sheets of Rizla angel from my fingers. The wind at
1am, weed rolled loose as a Tesco bag, the
polystyrene cup breaking under teeth. In the corner

sharing headphones, listening to Dizzee’s black
vibrations, backs of our heads touching. Raw
rum laughing. Our throats throbbing ready
smoke. Sitting on the swings, the 8 year old sores
scabbed and pickable, worth the scars set in
memories that fit on fingers like Hoola-hoops. The
lighters set fire to bins for warmth and jokes. The city –
a shitty sun. We’ve needed a new one for a while – that
doesn’t soak into the tarmac like chewing gum. Do

we feel cold? Our skin does but our mind’s do not…
like scotch bonnets. I ask them, ‘Is that what we want?’
They walk their swings to tip toe. Jump-ready. Aiming to
the suspicious sun. We’d do anything. Anything, to heal.

Deborah Stevenson won the first prize in the What’s your History? poetry competition.