Crawling under white skin: A poem

Different, but now the same.

A name change to hide the shame.

Forever locked just outside

A culture and language never to be mine.

Privileged pale skin masks a caste confined to the past.



Out of the window- endless skies,

Dewy fresh cut grass lining

Paths worn through like the soles on your shoes.

Your shoes. Mine are sat here in the hall

Twiddling their thumbs as yours wander on.




Wandering free is the mythical gypsy.

Crawling under white skin-

Permanent tattoos of non-kin.

Exotic and free, but that’s not the memory

Of shackles and chains and gas chamber pains.

Free to wander in vain, with no land-gain.




More than just tie-dye trinkets to tap into your hipster racism.

Trespassing through my ethnicity without integrity.

Dreamcatchers for gypsy dust to sprinkle over your privilege.

All it does is drive a wedge.

Magpies don’t see what’s left behind.

They have eyes only for their find.




I don’t write poems. I can’t really explain this one except to say that I was wandering through a market in Australia on holiday. It was full of ‘gypsy’ clothes and trinkets labelled as such. One brand was called ‘Gypsy Love’ and a sign read ‘Festival wear designed to free the gypsy spirit within us all’.

A quick google and I found this:


A now institutional coffee table book for the bohemian fashion set, we’re super excited to stock Gypset Style.

Fusing the ease and carefree lifestyle of a Gypsy with the sophistication of the jet set, author Julia Chaplin coined the term “Gypset” to refer to an international community of artists, designers and bon vivants the twenty-first century’s Bright Young Things.


I can’t say I share the enthusiasm for depicting a marginalised ethnic group (actually a cluster of multiple groups) as a commodity to be incorporated into a fashion fad. A history of slavery and genocide jars with the easy and carefree lifestyle attributed to ‘gypsies’. But maybe that’s just me!




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