Cultural Chameleon

I am a cultural chameleon, a lyrical social comedian,

I’ve felt I had no choice but to change my voice

To appear average - by mean, mode or median.


I studied hard to fit in and be cool,

Ever since I’ve been able to speak,

Although to not stand out at my school,

I 'ad ta learn ta ‘talk common’ not Latin or Greek.

Mi haf fi pick up my patois from conversation;

Many darker than mi did too,

Be'cas... if you're not first generation,

It may not come natural to you.

I’ve delved deep in all sides of my history,

Something I believe every person should do,

As if where you’ve come from's a mystery,

Can you be sure that your heading is true?

So to stories of Romans and Boudica,

I add the Maroons, Garvey and Chaka Zulu,

And make sure the light of ‘lady of the lamp’

Never obscures Mary Seacole from view.


My biological heritage is both Black + British,

And yet some really do seem to feel,

That my need to pay subs to both these ‘cultural clubs’

Is somehow less than real,

Like some BNP or National Front, jumped up runt,

Son of an Enoch Powel-influenced ignorant grunt,

Who wants us all to ‘Go back!’ to our historically correct geographical homes.

Well hold on! Mine’s split across five hours of time

Which are a ‘lickle harder to straddle

Than a couple of travel-card zones.

Forget that this patriot’s Queen is Franco-German,

The suggestion of this lunatic,

Is that the place I should feel most at home in,

Is floating somewhere over the mid-Atlantic!

One toe down in London town,

De other in Kingston poor wretch,

Better put me on the rack right now

‘Cos mi legs dem just won’t stretch.

Mi left side is waitin’ pon me breakfast seen,

When my right sides has just had me lunch,

I guess if I’m confused stuck in between,

I could always just do brunch!

But, from that lofty spot,

I could appreciate many artists who shaped our current world view.

Great bards from Tuff Gong to Billy wag-a-dagger,

Known as Marley and Shakespeare to you.

The Windrush might appear through time’s mist to me,

As it answers the Mother Country’s call,

Those aboard unbowed by history,

Each with a right to stand proud and tall.

Slave routes back to Africa would be visible too;

A journey many did not survive.

Britannia’s involvement is shameful it’s true,

But I’m so proud that I’m alive.

For my DNA’s very existence,

Is a testimony to my parents’ tolerance,

And my ancestors’ persistence,

Even when faced with overwhelming ignorance.

It is a unique blend of aboriginal British bloodlines, with those of the invited immigrants.


So yes,

I am a cultural chameleon, a lyrical social comedian.

Now by choice, I change mi voice

To appear more dan just average!

By mean, mode or median.

Chameleon white back Back to... Poems by mark