Sunday, December 15, 2013

Anthony J. Langford- Three Poems

A Marriage made in Haste
He is 53
She is 47
He was once married for 3 years
29 years prior
She had been married for 22 years
Beginning 27 years earlier
He had 1 daughter
She had 1 of each.
When they met
100 years of sparks showered
Within 5 months they were engaged
Despite some (polite) concern
From loved ones
In 11 months they were married
They bought a large
Single bedroom apartment
At 293 Split Avenue
And shared 4 months of bliss
192 days of contentment
93 days pondering
And 15 months
Trying to undo what was already done.
Finally he left
Her the apartment
Though he claimed 35 percent
She took the same percentage
And the lawyers got the rest.
Now they’re back where they began
Approximately 42 percent worse off
(finances are complex)
Though at terms
With being alone.
The question is this:
An expensive exercise
Or a justifiable expense?
An ingrained grainy institution
The tie is the shield
And the pen
And the desk
And the mountain of academia
On which they perch.
Backed up
By millennia of regulations
The history alone
The armor
And despite the basis of your argument
A pointless struggle
Against the unyielding
The righteous
As the rules do not bend
For you
Or anyone
As the University
Is its own
Don’t you know.
And while you move through
They remain
They will never capitulate
And ensure, by the end
That your only way forward
Is to conform.
Meanwhile your individuality
That curse of progress
Is sapped dry.
The machine only operates
With all the cogs
In their right functioning place
Hence the ocean pool of references
As it’s all been said
And documented
Long before.
Not by people            
Such as yourself
But by texts
And doctorates
And abbreviations of sorts
Following names
In texts.
So pay your fees
Return to your class
And do as you’re told
As that is what they expect
While they disarm you
With Carpe Diem
And other such
Illustrious clichés.
The magician’s modus operandi
Has always been
Don’t watch what the other hand is doing.
You will discover
After sufficiently spent boot camp
That those who prosper
Never questioned
And those who don’t challenge
Are rewarded.
Bar flying
I sit on a bar stool
Against a wall
Hoping to find the type of people
That the décor promised
Low light
Wood paneling
Cartoon art
Seventies posters
Large worn couches
And a couple of top quality ales
Albeit Fox Sports on the TV
Beef pies in the warmer
And shitty green carpet.
The bartender is more interested
In his own muscles
Than conversation
So I let it slide
But the table of three
Next to me
Guffawed rather than laughed
The louder the better apparently
With an aggressive blokey edge
That made me question
Whether I was in the wrong venue.
I flicked through the Drum Media
While peering into corners
Discovering more T-Shirts
And blanket coverage tattoos
What happened to less is more?
A couple sit without conversation
Maybe they’ve been there too long
Though I suspect they had
Grown tired of one another
Long before.
Something doesn’t sit right
Like a train off its tracks
And maybe part of that feeling
Was simply my presence
So I walk out
Finding it hard to believe
I’d fallen sucker to
That most worn of clichés
The deception of appearances.
Anthony J. Langford is a 2014 Pushcart Prize Nominee. He lives in Sydney, writes novels, stories, poetry and creates video poems. Recent publications include Five Poetry Magazine, Forge Journal and The Glass Coin. He works in television and has made short films, some screening internationally. A novella, Bottomless River (2012) and a poetry collection, Caged without Walls (2013) are out through Ginninderra Press.
Much of his work at


  1. Brilliant!! I was particularly captivated by the first poem, the last two lines were excellent in summing things up. And poem three also sunk in without me noticing until I read the final paragraph, I too had been sucked in to the deception of appearances.

    I really enjoy your more personal work, for me I relate better to them. I feel your poetry is moving into a more accessible and open place, one that I am falling deeper into and relating more to, even without ever having had experienced, month after month.

  2. Anthony, your poems run the theme of confirm or else. Have to be married, have to follow the rules, and have to keep up appearances. And blanket coverage tattoos, what happened to less is more? The cynic in me loves those lines. I got my tattoos to conform my individuality.

  3. That's great feedback. Thank you very much Sally. :)

  4. I don't mind tattoos Graham - but these days bodies look more like seventies style carpet lol.... or that perhaps someone threw up on them lol.. Thanks for your comment, and yes, I'm a bit of a non conformist. Cheers...

  5. What at first seems so right, turns out to be wrong. Thanks for sharing. The only place poetry comes into my life!

  6. Conform or else - the poem about university and the destruction of individuality and free thinking is quite simply brilliant in its accuracy. In fact all three showcasing your incredible talent - laying the truth bare.

  7. I like all three of these poems a lot. The first one confirms my own thoughts about what happens if my wife dies, or leaves me. I'm not sure what will happen, but I am quite sure what won't. There will be no relationships based on feeling lonely or isolated. I'd rather open a vein.

    I think you are spot on about universities. I'll even go further and say it starts a lot earlier than that. We all start out creative, wide eyed and full of wonder. Our educational systems do a pretty good job at beating most of that out of us...