Poems By Raymond Antrobus

Sunday, 29 May 2011

A Sign Of The Ages

When I heard Gil Scott Heron died it really upset me. I spent the day listening to his Ghetto Style album back to back. My mum bought me that album when I was 16 and it's one of the best albums ever for me. I read an article on Gil in the New York Times which spoke of Gil's struggle with his physical appearance after age & substance abuse took its toll.

In the end he avoided mirrors,
he recognised someone that didn’t look like themselves.
In the end he avoided mirrors,
there are other ways to look at what time does to us,
this is why we have memories, dreams and sunglasses.

Do you know what it sounds like when a man smashes
into pieces like a crushed tablet?
when a man has enough cracks to slide fingers into his chest, to spread palm
over heart to shake it, yelling


He was an immigrant who felt at home
when he got used to the hatred –
this is what happens when you give every piece of yourself
to a world that prospers on the mutilation
of the good natured.

I’m young enough to feel like I can exchange my pieces
for something that can’t be fed back to me in a dog’s bowl,
to feel like I might have a hole wide enough to reach
into my heart and throw it at you and wait for my gold.

But this is not 1961, and I’m not a black man in America, and I probably spend too much time in the mirror.

It truly is a precious time when we sit down and feel like we’re inside it.
When we’ve unplugged the television and thrown it through a window,
when we’re young enough to look exactly how we want to be remembered.

Before we're at the end, avoiding mirrors.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

HEY! LOOK! The Sun Is In The Sky And It's On It's Own

Do not ask me if I’m lonely
I will not know how to answer.

my mum said I came out her womb, screaming
like I was wounded
until I was put in her arms.

do not ask me if I’m lonely.

writers talk about owning their own loneliness,
but I think it’s just something they say to the walls.

I get mad at time

at times
because it can’t give me any more of my childhood.

at times
all I can taste are the spaces, sore
between my broken teeth.

at times
I see old lovers under falling snow
in yellow summer dresses
looking like a warmer place to escape to.

Grandma says its amazing what we keep
in our brains, some we want, some we don’t want.

and this...
This is the darkest room inside me
I walk in, turn on the night
and watch what disappears.

do not ask me if I’m lonely.

I do not know if loneliness is an injury.

but I’m afraid to learn this poem by heart
because of what it might do to my heart.

I sit with my loneliness and we both agree
we like each other’s company
but only when we know what to do
with each other.

It's Complicated. Poem By Raymond Antrobus. Video by Zayna Daze.

Saturday, 21 May 2011


I am a museum
and everything is in the dark.
I feel for the walls,
still ignoring the grainy voice of
nowhere. I hold out a black map and look in a place I’ve never been
for the colour of lightning. My chances are losing

The museum is exhibiting the way I breathe.
The warm air is soft
and bleeds easily. Black is the burnt smell of all questions that got
answers by falling onto the slow barbeque of time.

‘Nowhere’ is still a voice
somewhere in my head, where I open walls
with fists and call it the art of hidden anger -
this has me biting into my breath, for the taste of youth
in my breaking voice.

this poem is writing itself at 2.07am

In the supermarket
I avoid the diary aisle
in case I see the yogurt
you used to bring home.

Morning breakfast is honey,
oat meal and unsweetened
Soy milk.

You are the clock on the wall
of my heart.
I’m waiting for the batteries
to run out.

I leave my house without
my camera. I don’t need
any mementos of the time
on your clock.

But I do miss the yogurt.

Funeral For A Party

Your red shirt with the black tie
and your little pink cowboy party hat
smell like the hospital.

You tell the guests in the garden
your Dad has lung cancer,
you are watching him die slowly.

The music turns off -
The kids who were dancing in the street
walk home under rain.
The couple kissing under the bus shelter
don’t feel right without the music.
Every head is down, their hands
in raincoats –

The weatherman promised a pink sky
why is it black?

Death is standing in the flowerbed
wearing a black smoking jacket
trying to light the barbecue.