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.