Hold your own - a poem by Kae Tempest

3 May 2023

Step into the mesmerising world and words of multi-award-winning hiphop artist, poet, musician, playwright and author Kae Tempest with their poem, 'Hold your own'. Drink in the words or allow yourself to be transported into inner connection through sound. Take a moment to sit in and with this. What emerges for you?

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Hold your own - a poem by Kae Tempest

When time pulls lives apart

Hold your own

When everything is fluid,

and when nothing can be known with any certainty

Hold your own

Hold it 'til you feel it there

As dark, and dense, and wet as earth

As vast, and bright, and sweet as air

When all there is

Is knowing that you feel what you are feeling

Hold your own

Ask your hands to know the things they hold

I know the days are reeling past in such squealing blasts

But stop for breath and you will know it's yours

Swaying like an open door when storms are coming


Time is an onslaught

Love is a mission

We work for vocation until

In remission

We wish we'd had patience and given more time to our children

Feel each decision that you make

Make it, hold it

Hold your own

Hold your lovers

Hold their hands

Hold their breasts in your hands, like your hands were their bras

Hold their face in your palms like a prayer

Hold them all night, feel them hold back

Don't hold back

Hold your own

Every pain

Every grievance

Every stab of shame

Every day spent with a demon in your brain giving chase

Hold it

Know the wolves that hunt you

In time, they will be the dogs that bring your slippers

Love them right and you will feel them kiss you when they come to bite

Hot snouts digging out your cuddles with their bloody muzzles


Nothing you can buy will ever make you more whole

This whole thing thrives on us feeling always incomplete

And it is why we will search for happiness in whatever thing it is we crave in the moment

And it is why we can never really find it there

It is why you will sit there with the lover that you fought for

In the car you sweated years to buy

Wearing the ring you dreamed of all your life

And some part of you will still be unsure that this is what you really want

Stop craving

Hold your own

But if you're satisfied with where you're at, with who you are

You won't need to buy new make-up, or new outfits, or new pots and pans

To cook new exciting recipes

For new exciting people

To make yourself feel like the new exciting person, you think you're supposed to be

Happiness, the brand, is not happiness

We are smarter than they think we are

They take us all for idiots

But that's their problem

When we behave like idiots

It becomes our problemSo hold your own

Breathe deep on a freezing beach

Taste the salt of friendship

Notice the movement of a stranger

Hold your own

And let it be


Poem by Kae Tempest

Header image: Amisha Nakhwa