“Love is the man overstanding”
I wait outside The Perseverance.
Just popping in here a minute.
I’d heard him say it many times before
like all kids with a drinking father,
watch him disappear
into smoke and laughter.
There is no such thing as too much laughter,
my father says, drinking in The Perseverance
until everything disappears—
I’m outside counting minutes,
waiting for the man, my father
to finish his shot and take me home before
it gets dark. We’ve been here before,
no such thing as too much laughter
unless you’re my mother without my father,
working weekends while The Perseverance
spits him out for a minute.
He gives me 50p to make me disappear.
50p in my hand, I disappear
like a coin in a parking meter before
the time runs out. How many minutes
will I lose listening to the laughter
spilling from The Perseverance
while strangers ask, where is your father?
I stare at the doors and say, my father
is working. Strangers who don’t disappear
but hug me for my perseverance.
Dad said this will be the last time before,
while the TV spilled canned laughter,
us, on the sofa in his council flat, knowing any minute
the yams will boil, any minute,
I will eat again with my father,
who cooks and serves laughter
good as any Jamaican who disappeared
from the Island I tasted before
overstanding our heat and perseverance.
I still hear popping in for a minute, see him disappear.
We lose our fathers before we know it.
I am still outside The Perseverance, listening for the laughter.
Excerpted from The Perseverance: Poems by Raymond Antrobus. Published with permission from Tin House. Copyright © 2021 by Raymond Antrobus.