Hollie McNish’s ‘A poem for Europe’

PUBLISHED: 18:04 28 July 2016 | UPDATED: 18:04 28 July 2016

Hollie McNish

Hollie McNish


Hollie McNish is a published UK poet based between London, Cambridge and Glasgow. She has two poetry collections, Cherry Pie and Papers, and an album, Versus. In 2016, Blackfriars published her memoir of poetry and parenthood, Nobody Told Me. In 2017, Picador will publish her third poetry collection, as yet untitled.

Those god damn Pakistanis and their goddamn corner shops

Built a shop on every corner took our British workers’ jobs

He says those godamn Chinese and their goddamn China shops

I tell him they’re from Vietnam but he doesn’t give a toss

I ask him what was there before that damn Japan man’s shop

He stares at me and dreams a scene of British workers’ jobs

Of full time full employment before the godamn boats all came

Where everybody went to work full time every day

A British Business stood there first he claims before the Irish came

Now British people lost their jobs and bloody Turkish are there to blame

I ask him how he knows that fact he says because it’s true

I ask him how he knows the fact he says he read it in the news

Every time a Somalian comes here they take a job from us

The mathematics one for one, from us to them it just adds up

He bites his cake and sips his brew and says again he knows the spot

The godamn Caribbeans came and now good folk here don’t have jobs

I ask him what was there before the goddamn Persian curtain shop

I show him architecture plans of empty godamn plots of land

I show him the historic maps

A bit of sand, a barren land

There was no goddamn shop before those Pakistanis came and planned man

I am sick of crappy mathematics

Cos I love a bit of sums

I spent three years into economics

And I geek out over calculus

And when I meet these paper claims

That one of every new that came

Takes away one daily wage

I desperately want to scream

“Your maths is stuck in primary”

Cos one who comes here also spends

And one who comes here also lends

And some who comes here also tend

To set up work which employs them

And all your balance sheets and trends

Work with numbers not with men

And all your goddamn heated talk

Ignores the trade the Polish brought

Ignores the men they gave work to

Not plumbing jobs but further too

Ignores the ones they buy stock from

Accountants, builders, on and on

And I know it’s nice to have someone

To blame our lack of jobs upon

But immigrations not as plain

Despite the sums inside your brain

As one for one, as him or you

As if he goes, they’ll employ you

Cos sometimes one that comes makes two

And sometimes one can add three more

And sometimes two times two is much much more

Than four

And most times immigrants bring more

Than minuses.

Hollie McNish

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