Sonny’s Lettah — Linton Kwesi Johnson


Brixtan Prison

Jebb Avenue

Landan south-west two



Dear Mama,

Good Day.

I hope dat wen

deze few lines reach yu,

they may find yu in di bes af helt.



I really don’t know how fi tell yu dis,

cause I did mek a salim pramis

fi tek care a likkle Jim

an try mi bes fi look out fi him.



I really did try mi bes,

but nondiles

mi sarry fi tell you seh

poor likkle Jim get arres.


It woz di miggle a di rush howah

wen evrybady jus a hosel an a bosel

fi goh home fi dem evenin showah;

mi an Jim stand up

waitin pan a bus,

nat cauzin no fus,

wen all af a sudden

a police van pull-up.


Out jump tree policeman,

di hole a dem carryin batan.

Dem waak straight up to mi an Jim.


One a dem hol awn to Jim

seh him tekin him in;

Jim tell him fi let goh a him

far him noh dhu notn

an him naw teef,

nat even a butn.

Jim start to wriggle

di police start to giggle.



mek I tell yu whe dem dhu to Jim


mek I tell yu whe dem dhu to him:


dem tump him in him belly

an it turn to jelly

dem lick him pan him back

and him rib get pap

dem lick him pan him hed

but it tuff like led

dem kick him in him seed

an it started to bleed



I jus coudn stan-up deh

and noh dhu notn:


soh me jook one in him eye

an him started to cry

mi tump one in him mout

an him started to shout

mi kick one pan him shin

an him started to spin

mi tump him pan him chin

an him drap pan a bin


an crash

an ded.



more policeman come dung

an beat mi to di grung;

dem charge Jim fi sus,

dem charge me fi murdah.



don fret,

dont get depres

an doun-hearted.

Be af good courage

till I hear fram you.


I remain

your son,


  • Every morning, for four years, I caught the bus from the bus stop outside Brixton Prison at Jebb Avenue, London SW2