Podcast Episode 7 - Steven Camden

This week's podcast episode features a spoke-word poem from poet and novelist Steven Camden (a.k.a. Polar Bear), and involves an awkward teenage encounter in a wardrobe, soundtracked by Biggie Smalls...


I spent a lot of time pretending that I was into stuff. And it came back and bit me on the arse. And it's going to bite me on the arse again tonight, because I HATE my track. For various, various reasons. 

Too many to go into now, but one of them I think this story kind of explains. 

"Who Shot Ya?"

I'm in a wardrobe. 
My torso no more than one and a half feet from another torso.
That other torso being female and way more advanced than mine. 
Gemma McBride.

She smells like CK one and Flumps. 

I can't see her in the dark, but my body still feels to try and hide. 
Through the scalpel cut crack between the doors, I can hear from outside the start of track 18 on my CD of Biggie Small's 'Ready to Die'. 

And I am. 

At this exact moment in time, I would happily die. 

I would happily pucker my lips at the vision of an 18-tonne wrecking ball coming swinging through the side of this house to flatten my life. 

Hands gun-stapled to my side. Palms greased with a sheen of puberty's nerves.

Not moving an inch. 
Conscious that every single flinch
Will be heard and observed by her. 

Any minuscule movement might be taken as a green light for action.
My whole body is in some kind of awake yet comatose state of self-imposed traction. 

"I can hear sweat trickling down your cheek, 
Your heart beat sounds like Sasquatch feet..."


You're not helping. 

It feels like my skeleton's melting. 
And I'm sweating like Roland from Grange Hill doing a bleep test. 

Toe-to-toe in the dark, my mind flashes back to three minutes previous. 

"And I'm Brooklyn's Finest
You rewind this, 
Bad Boys behind this..."


It was like The Deer Hunter. 
Watching the empty Lucozade bottle spin
On the thin 1970s throwback carpet
I imagine staring  into Christopher Walken's wide eyes
The cold metal of the gun barrel pressed against my temple. 

She did it gentle on purpose
And as her wrist sent it turning she cut me a look she didn't even try and hide. 

"It's me and you sunshine."

There were nine of us. 
Girls four, boys five. 
And everybody knew, the only boy's mouth she hadn't explored with her tongue was mine. 

I scanned the circle. Everybody else was on it.
Fourteen year old veterans, their confident predator eyes staring at the bottle, 
Knowing it was stopping, 
Pointing at me. 

A sheep on his knees with Hyenas. 

And she didn't even look. She knew. 
Like all good strikers, the goal doesn't move.
Just keep your eye on the ball.
It's yours, you own it. 

Everybody's face turned to me in slow motion.

There was no air. 

Now there's no air in here. I'm breathing in what she's breathing out. I'm a horror film victim, struck silent with the need to shout. 

"And you'll die, slow but calm..."


"Who's Biggie?"

Her voice stabs me. 
Outside the doors they're counting down to when the track's done, we step out and Gemma pronounces how she's had me. 

But I don't want to be had. 

I'm not ready for this. (And besides, I'm kind of into that girl in my maths class...)

"Can't we just not? You know? And say that we did..."
"WHAT? You kidding?"
"No... I'm just... you know... I'm just..."
"You're just FRIGID!"
"Gemma - I don't want to...". 

And that's when it came.
From the warm grey of the dark,
The 18-tonne wrecking ball fist,
Etched with letters spelling my name. 

Now basically yeah, as anyone who's ever been punched fully in the stomach while standing in a cramped wardrobe in the dark when they're not expecting it, and subsequently fallen out of said wardrobe into a crumpled heap in front of seven expectant friends to a backdrop of track 18 of my CD of Biggie Smalls' 'Ready To Die' will know - there's not much you can do. 

I lay there. Concave.
Got crushed, lungs bust.
ircled by amazed faces praying for something, anything, to save me. 

But all I heard was Biggie Smalls say: 'Who Shot Ya?'