Raymond Antrobus

Raymond Antrobus

Raised In The East

For Gboyega Odubanjo

Your sister, Rose,
confirmed that even as a child

you did that thing with your hands,
chopping up the air beneath your chin

before blurting lyrics. Rose
stood on the Dagenham street, asked

for stories that bring you back.
At your funeral the priest pointed

at your shining too-new casket and announced
that you were not in there, not in that box,

that whatever energy you were is
with us. For who can say what is gone,

what is missing? Or if there is or is not
a dimension where we might still find you,

our lost brother, out in the festival field,
staring at the fireworks, if there is

or is not a dimension where I could
fall back asleep in the knowledge  

I could reach your voice as we turn 
into the new half of our lives with better

balance and wider windows, fall back asleep
in the knowledge I would soon see you rising

on the other side of some crowded room
in your rimmed glasses, your thumbs up, self-

assurance itself in dreads, dressed
as an English gent in denim and Doc

Martins – Punk-ish, and Midsummer Night
Puck-ish. I still hear you shout Raised

in the East! bright as the froth
from your black pint of Guinness. 

RAYMOND ANTROBUS MBE FRSL was born in London. He is the author of The Perseverance (Penned In The Margins / Tin House, 2018), All The Names Given (Picador / Tin House, 2021), Signs, Music (Picador / Tin House, 2024).