What became of the boy who called himself Grief?
The boy who, the story ran, harboured a gun
through the back-roads and alleyways of his teens
the boy who turned up as a footnote the night
we played my ends are rougher than your ends
in a flat overlooking London Road — frontline
of a post-code war from which we were
so far removed we chuckled when someone said
kebabs from the shop that wore a fresh batch
of memorial flowers were ‘to die for’.
Grief was grit to lend the fable texture.
We never knew the name his mum called him
or what reduced him to plying the night trade
so white kids could say they bun high grade.
He is like those boys caught between commas
in news reports about youth crime, an image
fixed in place by someone else’s language.