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In a black cab on our way to the ballet –

‘The Red Shoes’ at Sadler’s Wells – we passed

the munificence of St Pancras Station

that dominates the six lane highway

and then the removed magnificence

of King’s Cross set far back from the road,

and I was reminded of some of Moscow’s

imitative terminals, and I thought

how a railway terminus is like

a proscenium arch and the track

inevitable like a plot unfolding.

Terminus was the god of boundaries,



A week before Easter our Cyprus hotel

hosted the season’s last two conferences –

‘Moscow Niardmedic’, ‘Nestlé in Russia’.

The spacious, tiled, white walled lounge, the free bars,

the terraces with pergolas were filled

with Big Pharma salespersons on a jolly –

the many ethnicities of Russia,

all seemingly impassive, inscrutable,

seemingly suspicious of strangers.


April 3rd on the St Petersburg metro

a bomb was detonated between stations…

April 7th the US Sixth Fleet,

below the horizon due south from here,



For Erika Ricci and Anna Lisa Rosetti




”I am not dumb now,” was Helen Keller’s proud,

challenging statement of fact. Those who can

see, she said, should be “knights of the blind”.




From the horsemen of the Apocalypse

to the breaking, millennia ago,

of wild horses on the western steppes

beyond Volga-Matushka – Mother Volga –

these beasts are both utility and symbol.




… inflated, a fiver, Made in Spain, bought

with candy floss and a fluorescent snake;

harness, saddle, accoutrements in red

and gold with tassels; caparisoned as if

for the Spanish Riding School in Vienna

or the corrida; forever prancing

with a winsome, vulnerable chestnut eye

but, though deflating, still too big for the long

drive south so left with us for safe keeping…


It rides unseen in the gazebo – secure

from downpours or gusts or jackdaws –



Whichever way the visitors choose to come –

up the steep, narrow road with blind corners

and left onto the Harlech Castle car park

or walking down from the high street – most

make for the statue, especially those

with young children attracted by the horse.


It is a war horse, so the tail is docked.

Its neck and head are lowered, its legs splayed,

its nostrils flaring, its eyes wide. It carries

two kings: Bendigeidfrân – Brân the Blessed



On a strip of unfenced scrubland – adorned

with scattered wild roses white and pink –

between the main road and our apartment,

a Roma family had pitched a low tent

of sun-bleached canvas, beneath two stunted

umbrella pines, set up a cooking pot

and tied their horse to a tree with a long tether

so it could graze on whatever was there.

There were three of them: a middle aged couple,

and an old woman – the women in black,

the man as tall,