I Want the Confidence of

By Raymond Antrobus

Salvador Dali in a 1950s McDonald’s advert,
of red gold and green ties
on shanty town dapper dandies, of Cuba Gooding Jr.
in a strip club shouting SHOW ME THE MONEY,
of the woman on the phone in the quiet coach,
of knowing you’ll be seen and served,
that no one will cross the road when they see you,
the sun shining through the gaps in the buildings,
a glass ceiling in a restaurant
where knives and spoons wink,
a polite pint and a cheeky cigarette, tattoos
on the arms, trains that blur the whole city without delay.
I want the confidence of a coffee bean in the body,
a surface that doesn’t need scratching;
I want to be fluent in confidence so large it speaks from its own sky.
At the airport I want my confidence to board
without investigations, to sit in foreign cafés
without a silver spoon in a teacup clinking
into sunken places, of someone named after a saint,
of Matthew the deaf footballer who couldn’t hear
to pass the ball, but still ran the pitch,
of leather jackets and the teeth
of hot combs, rollin’ roadmen and rubber.
I don’t want my confidence to lie;
it has to mean helium balloons in any shape or colour,
has to mean rubber tree in rain; make it
my sister leaving home for university, my finally sober father,
my mother becoming a circus clown.
There is such a thing as a key confidently cut
that accepts the locks it doesn’t fit.
Call it a boy busking on the canal path singing
to no one but the bridges
and the black water under them.


"I Want the Confidence Of" © by Raymond Antrobus from The Perseverance, published by Penned in the Margins (2018).