Casey Bailey (British Working Class Poetry)

Casey Bailey is an award winning writer, performer and educator, born and raised in Nechells, Birmingham, UK. Casey was the Birmingham Poet Laureate 2020 - 2022.

Casey has had three poetry books published and had his poetry published in a number of anthologies and journals. As a playwright, Casey has brought plays to the stage in Birmingham and London, including GrimeBoy which had a sold out run at the Birmingham Rep. In 2022 Casey won a Royal Television Society award for a film for his poem “Dear Brum”. 

A number of organisations have commissioned pieces from Casey, including the BBC and the Royal Shakespeare Company and he has performed his work internationally. Casey is a fellow at the University of Worcester, and in 2021 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Education by Newman University.

 

Tanka at Essex Bridge

 

Under Essex Bridge

Perished leaves mount waterfalls

Riding to Freedom

Young bodies break the surface

Smiling in the face of death

 

Today I wonder

Where water under the bridge

Goes. Twigs it carries

Spiral out of sight and mind

Sliced by sunlight lost to shade

 

The water never

Arrives at the horizon

A trick of the eye

Spinning stories, turning worlds 

Into waterfalls - endings

 

 


 

Spade

 

When I have nothing to say

I sit the words down like parents

at the park. Let them watch

as the kids play, resisting

the urge to jump in where

they are not needed. These

words won’t jump, for the sake 

of demonstrating their prowess

 

I have heard the breath

half drawn in the throat 

of a man wise enough to hold

his tongue and still valiant enough

to stand his ground. I saw air

pause before his lips, pirouette

and dissipate into the potential

for nothing. And for everything.

 

I have known words, suspended

in the air like the shadow of death

secure in the knowledge 

that if nobody says them out loud

it doesn’t change the fact 

that they have always been present.

I have danced with the fallacy 

of silence in the quietest rooms

 

I don’t ask the boy about his face,

or the driver why the train is late

I smile, with none of the happiness

smiles hold, but all of the kindness.

You can call a spade a spade 

if you want. But don’t act like you

unearthed something unknown 

like you had to do any digging.

 

 


 

House of Dragons

 

When dragons flew to war… everything burned.

I do not wish to rule over a kingdom of ash and bone.

- Rhaenyra Targaryen

 

The Targaryens are xing each other again.

The young boy who grew up around the corner

on Rupert Street, following old heads with new

guns, has so many swords in his back he could

wear the iron throne as a personalised backpack.

Trust will always look out of place around here.

 

I hate it most when the dragons kill each other.

Pulled into war they never chose, killing the only

thing that will ever know them, crying in the corners 

of their caves at night time. Listen by the fireplace,

 you will hear the lies they whisper to themselves. 

He would still love me without the wings and fire.

 

The girl has finally followed her heart and married

her uncle. The young boy earned his stripes sending 

a blade through his cousin - the things we cheer

look funny in the light, but with the liquor flowing

and fuses blowing, light is merely a fever dream.

Dreams didn’t make us kings, dragons did.


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