Birmingham City Council

Saving our sons by Roy McFarlane

Blacks, Asians, Whites we all live in the same community, why do we have to kill one another…I lost my son, step forward if you want to lose your son…” Tariq Jahan, father of Haroon Jahan killed in the Birmingham riots. August 2011


A man’s hands are bloodied

from the caesarean which has ripped open

the belly of our society pregnant with the malaise

of injustice, poverty and hopelessness.

A father desperately tries to save the life of his son

and others brutally mowed down on a bloody street.

He’s trying like a midwife

to keep them alive


but the wound is too wide

that has torn the fabric of our city.

He’s trying to save them in the midst of rioting,

the chaos and destruction,

dark abyss of madness

born and bred in these times.

Moments later his own flesh and blood

lies dying in the cradle of his arms.


His hands, his face, sticky with warm blood

and these austere times have birthed

the ugliest scenes we’ve ever seen.

But the night has not finished

for there’s a placenta

of vengeance and violence

slowly swelling inside, poisoning

the blood that flows through young minds.


Hours later, the father who has lost his son

returns back to the scene of travailing

to bury the growing placenta with

outstretched hands pleading to a crowd

for the insanity to stop

and like a mother in labour

he cries with the re-birth of hope and charity

that will hopefully save our sons.


Roy McFarlane ©

Birmingham Poet Laureate 2010/2011