Poems By Raymond Antrobus

Monday, 25 July 2011

Anti-Parent (revisited)


You spent most your life
on the cold dust of
a grudge
against your parents

ankles unbroken
in casts
of stale excuses
with kneecaps
stiff as Frankenstein
the wild pace
of London
than drowsy tongues

Your yellow drunk eyes
grate ice
into the glass mist
of your vision
when they see me

somewhere -
they know you promised

you stand up in your
tailored shirt, creased
and blue
hot wino spittle

with loud confidence
used to show your tears
in public places

you are old and
because you have run
out of pub restrooms
to lock
yourself in

and I am
the fluorescent light
in a white bathroom

Look! The Sun Is In The Sky and It’s on it’s own (Revisited)

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

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.

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.

Depression is a gold fish.

a little fish swims around in my stomach
it’s called sadness,
the fish already has access to 70% of my body.
I'm drinking less water these days, 
and my piss is becoming more and more golden.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

A Letter To The Other Half Of Myself

"No one will remember you if you keep your thoughts secret, force yourself to express them"
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Dear Other Half Of Me.

Why can’t you be more involved with me? I am the other half of you. Why aren’t we looking people in the eye on the street? either you’ve been in a city too long or you have a self esteem issue. We’ve got to find a way to work together. There aren’t many people to fear you know? Look at you... you’re the beautiful side, what do you have not to be confident about? You need to tame your sensitivity a little bit. Last week we sat on a stall by the window as the sun came into Grandma’s kitchen. Grandma is 95 and she was looking at a black and white picture of herself in 1939, standing on a hill of grass. She was wearing a summer dress and smiling. She stroked the picture and said “enjoy beauty because it fades”.

We’re 24, way too young for feeling hopelessness, ugliness etc. Now, I know you don’t want to hear this but on the days you spend alone you have at least one suicidal thought. Nothing in your life is that bad so this needs to be attended to. Life will give us enough reasons to be sad without making up your own.

You need to get yourself in a place where a) you aren’t bored enough to dwell on the past, b) you stop longing for lovers that aren’t yours any more, c) be more focus on pushing your projects forward, d) have more confidence in your ability to assert yourself to engage with people.

Let’s talk about women, now a lot of men kill themselves after being left by a woman they love. They fall into this trap of not working on their own identity while they have the security of their partners. Things feel easier in a relationship, you constantly have someone around you trust and talk to about anything. Life in general is easier and more stable. Didn’t you also see a poster recently that said “happiness is regular sex”? if you have issues with yourself before you get into a relationship and then they seem to disappear when you’re in one, never kid yourself by thinking the pain of your issues have disappeared.. they haven’t, you’ve just found a way to get away from them for a while.

Sadness comes to us when we aren’t enjoying our experience of life so even if you aren’t doing something productive you’ve got to enjoy it. We were down Brick Lane once looking at two drunks throwing up outside a bar. You pointed at them and said to me “I don’t get it” and I came up with the idea that going out on a Saturday night to get pissed is a performance. We write and perform poetry, we’ve set up a life that gives us a stage to explore the world that is in us and that is how we perform and that’s how they perform. That idea sounds a bit smug out loud but it sat well with both of us as we discussed it.

Let’s talk about the other other half of us, Dad. He’s been talking about his own death all our life and now we’re older we see it’s his own fear of being left alone that has pushed people away from him. I remember when I was about 10 and he came in the house and fell on the sofa almost in tears saying “I’m dying, I’m dying” and I sat there in tears thinking I was watching him die... actually he had a stomach cramp... that moment is scarred on me and over the years I’ve numbed to his “I’m dying” claims. However, you don’t forgive him for injecting you with the fear of his death. We were ten and you were afraid of losing your dad. We’re 24 now and we’re both surprised he’s still alive. Luckily, he’s not alone and he’s got a woman to look after him. Our Dad is an intelligent man and has always had the capacity to be something that reflected that but his lack of self awareness has prevented this. He was an alcoholic, gambler and still is a heavy smoker. He’s not going to change so the only peace we’re going to have with our dad is keeping our expectations of him as minimal as possible.

Lets talk on your productivity, you are not disciplined enough to be the best writer you can be and if the stick you give yourself for this isn’t motivating you but adding further hindrances you need to stop and enjoy the time away from your desk... we should go to the cinema and to theatres more often.. its something that helps us connect.

I think you think too much. I think people who think too much open up more possabilities to be sad.

Lastly, I’d like to tell you this as I think you need to hear it... do not lose faith in your ability to communicate. You are very good at it.

Love from the other half of yourself.

Thursday, 2 June 2011


You saw her in the street beneath a bus shelter,
you have not seen her since the break up.
You are wearing a T-Shirt you wore when you were together.

If she sees you she will not think

Oh’ my god there’s my ex boyfriend! Oh’ my god! he had those clothes when we broke up, what the fuck? It’s been 5 years!

This is not like a dream you’ve been trying to have.
You know, other than the T-shirt you are wearing
you do not look like her old lover.
You can grow a beard now,
although you did shave this morning,
And it’s so like you to not know what to do
in an awkward situation.

you are out of the love you were in,
but you can’t believe what things matter right now,
she is wearing a style you have not seen her in,
you don’t want to get close enough to know she smells different.

She does not know that you are calling yourself a poet now
But you hope she sees the notebook in your hand
and the way you hang your face like you’re thinking
harder than ever before.

You realize you are pouting,
you’ve always done that,
she has definitely seen you
and you are both pretending
to be who you are.

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.