Uncle Tom…

paper-chain

 

Uncle Tom

 

When I was born I was blue from cold

The midwife borrowed coal

 

I had two mothers; one flesh

The other sent us giros

Fed me vitamin-enriched orange juice

With my free school meals

That generation did not reverse disadvantage

But they held it at arm’s length for a while

Whilst I was educated above my station

 

But I could never forget that borrowed coal

It was a debt of compound interest

A life of social service could be the only

Appropriate gratitude

 

25 years later I am darkened by doubt

Did I became a kind of Uncle Tom

A white bureaucratic house-negro

Keeping my kind compliant

At the shrinking fringe of the welfare state?

 

Did I offer cheap ointment for chain-chafe

When I should have swung a hammer?

 

Unlike Tom I will not go quietly