Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
24 October 2018updated 09 Sep 2021 5:19pm

After Being Called a Fucking Foreigner in London Fields

A new poem by Raymond Antrobus.

By Raymond Antrobus

Because Dad slapped me
every time I fell into the metal railings
besides the swings, I was the first
in school to cycle without
training wheels. Dad’s style
of discipline didn’t check
for blood, just picked
me up with one hand,
red BMX in the other, his face
a fist, come, come,
pushed me along as I tried
to breathe and balance
the threat of a crash or
punch. A presence I feel in my chest
twenty-five years later walking
on the cycle path in the same park.
I keep my father’s words, violence
is always a failure
, so I don’t
swing into the man’s pale
bag-face when he throws
his arms up to fight me.
The truth is I’m not
a fist fighter. I’m all heart,
no technique. Last fought
at sixteen. Broke
two fingers and fractured
my wrist after a bad
swing, my boys bursting to see
a rumble, shouting, breathe breathe breathe,
which is also what my anger
counsellor said when I punched
the wall in her office but seriously –
who gets into fights in their thirties?
Nowadays, instead of violence,
I write until everything goes
quiet. No one can tell me
anything about this radiance.
I’m riding like a boy
on his red BMX – I see myself
turning off the path, racing past
the metal railings, the empty swings.

Raymond Antrobus was born in Hackney, east London, to an English mother and Jamaican father, and is the author of “The Perseverance”, which has just been published by Penned in the Margins. He is the winner of the 2017 Geoffrey Dearmer Prize.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

This article appears in the 24 Oct 2018 issue of the New Statesman, The Brexit crash