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.

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