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Raymond Antrobus
+ posts


First we laughed with prickly legs
and stubble beards at police
in polished riot vans.
Then we laughed

shivering like candles
at the Prime Minister’s heated

swimming pool. We carried
our laughter like The Big Issue  

and hurled it at the Education
Minister and his ten-thousand-

pound Rolex. When they took
our right to laugh we laughed

in our passport photos so we couldn’t
leave our country. We gathered

laughing in Trafalgar Square,
painted laughing lions

on placards as experts
appeared on radio

and TV to voice
the natural inferiority of laughter,

the infectious killer jokes.
The broadcasts were eaten up

by our laughter, which roared
around the world

while the suits spoke
of the dangers of dying

in fits of laughter
and some of us held

the sharp splits
of our sides

and gasped


Raymond Antrobus is the author of To Sweeten Bitter (2017, Out-Spoken Press), The Perseverance (2018, Penned In The Margins) All The Names Given (2021, Picador) and the children’s picture book Can Bears Ski? (2020, Walkers Books).

Call to action: I hope this poem inspires anyone doubting the power of people affecting change. I hope we keep our progressive spirits alive, especially in the face of a hostile environment, cost of living crisis and apathetic politicians. Keep signing petitions, attending rallies, curating communities while making and sharing art that expresses the reality of our struggle and the possibility of our liberation. And if you are looking for a writing and literature community, get involved in the Conversations With Baldwin workshops, happening nationally across the UK: