Benjamin Zephaniah

(15 April 1958 / Birmingham)

Neighbours - Poem by Benjamin Zephaniah

I am the type you are supposed to fear
Black and foreign
Big and dreadlocks
An uneducated grass eater.

I talk in tongues
I chant at night
I appear anywhere,
I sleep with lions
And when the moon gets me
I am a Wailer.

I am moving in
Next door to you
So you can get to know me,
You will see my shadow
In the bathroom window,
My aromas will occupy
Your space,
Our ball will be in your court.
How will you feel?

You should feel good
You have been chosen.

I am the type you are supposed to love
Dark and mysterious
Tall and natural
Thinking, tea total.
I talk in schools
I sing on TV
I am in the papers,
I keep cool cats

And when the sun is shining
I go Carnival.

Comments about Neighbours by Benjamin Zephaniah

  • Freshman - 660 Points Diana Van Den Berg (11/13/2015 4:32:00 PM)

    Love, love, love the attitude! Kudos, Benjamin! You are so right! Love it all but absolutely love the last stanza turn-around! Magnificent! I know all the wonderful things you do, and I really hope that you use this poem as often as you can and in as many places as you can!

    I particularly love the line:

    I sleep with lions

    How I would love to do that, if it was, in any way possible!

    I am a white African and I adore my country (South Africa) and my continent (Africa) passionately, because of its wonders and despite its horrors. (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Gold Star - 13,715 Points Susan Williams (10/13/2015 3:09:00 PM)

    In the second part of the poem, the first line is repeated, with the word “love” instead of “fear”. The negative descriptives have been changed into positives. Prejudice makes you see the negative because you are afraid of the unknown.: Instead of raging and increasing the fear factor, his tone is humorous. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 343 Points F. J. Thomas (6/11/2014 7:18:00 AM)

    Now THAT is an introduction and a half! ;) Very nice Ben (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 442 Points Nancy Oyula (6/11/2014 7:13:00 AM)

    oh Benji! Writing good as always (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ahmad Shiddiqi (8/10/2009 12:14:00 AM)

    what a lovely, humble and straighforward of autobiographical words! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ijanric Howe (7/30/2009 6:32:00 PM)

    Sums up contemporary, casual racism so well. Come and be my neighbour Benjamin - we go Carnival together! (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: moon, sleep, fear, dark, sun, night, school, cat

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

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