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Poetry by Haris Ahmed

Performed at the WE ARE HERE event organised by the artist grassroots collective Wur Bradford on 28th April 2018.

Many thanks to Haris for allowing us to publish the work here.



These stone slabs may seem so stern but are so soft to slide your feet across,
And they want to close this piece of history down,
Most of Bradford wouldn’t feel the loss,
In a place where you can barter to change the cost,
Where brand names mean less we don’t need the Lacoste,

And i’ve been here since i was in a pram,
And it’s safe to say this place made me how i am,
Let’s see where it takes me i don’t stick to a plan,
And i’m rapping in the market where it all began,
And i want this bit of history,
Another piece to this mystery,
The Lack of appeal it’s eclipsing me,
But i don’t give a damn,

The aroma of takeaway food,
The chatter of traders,
You can buy some polish food,
Or a sack of potatoes,

John St Market, the Oastler shopping centre,
Many names, but for trading this really is the centre,
And i’ll tone it down because there’s nobody here to censor,
But Kirsty Taylor, thank God that they sent her,

Because i wouldn’t be hear to preach my passion,
Or hear you clapping
to me rapping,
Teens these days say they’re trapping,
But you spend a day with Ben and me, how’s that for grafting?

You’ve got butchers upon butchers,
Game shop, and fast food, all under,
One structure,
Kind old people who’s stories would touch ya’

You have the whole world and more in this market,
When you’re aiming for diversity this place is the target,
Go anywhere in the world and you’ll find nothing like it,
We’re here in Bradford Markets,
What you gonna do about it?


This labyrinth of lanes,
This market can be a maze,
To get to one shop i swear there’s half a dozen ways,
And my love for this place, doesn’t smoulder it erupts into a blaze,
But in all honesty i wouldn’t have it any other way,


There’s something that i have to say,

And if i don’t it’ll just eat away,

This market drives me mad sometimes,
And you wouldn’t know by the jazzed up rhymes,
I’ve watched this place get neglected who’s accountable for the crime?

And this may sound controversial,
Not what you expect,
That as a 16 year old that there’s this level of depth,
And i’m not here to upset,
But i am filled with regret,
Bradford owes us something, a metaphysical debt,

There’s generation after generation,
Going home each day in frustration,
Original lease,
they built this market by the halfpenny piece,
And they’re taking a pounding, by the rent increase,

I work in perfume, and can smell the tension,
Security and bliss is the rich man’s invention,
Something needs to change,
Everyone knows it,
But who’s got the guts to step up and show it?



I used to beg my dad for 20p,
Because back then my pockets were empty,
They still are but shush, this is for the poetry,
But back to the focus, 20p.

For the bouncy ball machines,
Dotted about the market,
Being told not to stray too far we’re kidnapping targets,

And now i look around the place i used to run amok,
Where i’d run through clothing displays and get a face full of socks
And the jeweller’s would catch my eye and i’d admire the miniature clocks,

I didn’t know they were called watches,
But back then i thought i knew it all,
I’ve made many memories here,
If they could talk, i’d say ask the walls,

Being dragged by my ears by the security guard,
I’d like to think we did well to keep him on guard,

Hid in crevices of stalls,
That would once host trade,
But now they made good use for our ball games,

I was raised on a market stall,
All day Saturdays
and holidays,
And.... pretty much every other day,
I remember wishing how i could get away,
But now here I am today,
Something made me stay,

Probably not the elevator music.

I mean... songs i’m mostly too young to know,
I’m sure they were wholly appreciated, many moons and Septembers ago,

I’m sure many of you frown at the smell of fresh fish and meat, but see,
It’s been a good few years since that smell defeated me,
So dish out 20p,
(X3 because that’s the price, 60p)
For some yorkshire brewed tea,
There’s plenty,
To go around,
If that’s not your choice buy some coffee,
With beans freshly ground,

Look up at the ceiling,
See all these pipes
Connecting everything of different sizes and types,
This market is one of them, running through the heart of our city,
John St Market, what a wonderful place to be.