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A WINNING HAND

We met on the first working day of the week;

married, five years later, on a Saturday;

and sailed for Ireland on the Sunday.

This Monday marks fifty two years of mostly

wedded bliss; occasional toilsome woe;

loving; giving; hard work; grace – a pack of cards

without, for the most part, the jangling jokers.

 

Out of the grassy plains, along the Silk Road

from Samarkand, came the colours of

anarchy, of power and passion; came

the four corners of the world,

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HESPERIDES

As goldfinches begin to sing and sparrows

chirp in polyphony, and swallows,

martins, swifts hunt with grace, the palette

of attenuated gold, amber, rose

is layered along the sea’s horizon

and the sun becomes a perfect disk

in the filtering, vermilion haze.

Anonymous con trails criss-cross the compass.

A lone swimmer crawls across the bay.

 

The evening star, sudden as a lamp, glints

in the afterglow. A wispy rain cloud forms

and drifts away like smoke.

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STUDIES IN BLUE: PADDLING POOL, LLANDUDNO

Five men, in orangey yellow overalls,

using long handled rollers are painting

the paddling pool – which is the size of four

tennis courts – that blue which only colour charts

show or astronauts will see.  Beyond

is the limestone headland with rock-roses

amongst the scrub and fulmars nesting.

Far out to sea is a gathering,

stately and serried, of white, wind turbines.

 

I think of David Hockney’s iconic pools,

and of Robert Rauschenberg’s ‘Combines’ –

hybrids of sculpture and paint  –

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GERTRUDE BELL AND THE TREATY OF SÈVRES

Paris, 1920

 

The treaty was signed in the Exhibition Room,

overseen by Marie Antoinette’s

dinner service. Like porcelain owls’ eyes,

they were witnesses of the delegates’ harsh

geometry, the fretwork jigsaw of desk

wallahs – Ottoman Mesopotamia

become modern Syria and Iraq.

 

Gertrude Bell was one of the delegates:

daughter of a philanthropic iron master;

Oxford graduate like T.E. Lawrence;

cartographer, mountaineer, linguist;

archaeologist, administrator,

public servant;

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OF PLUMS AND FIGS

Dreamily among the leaves, uneasily,

in my age, up a shining ladder

I am plucking plums – discarding those

rotten, prune-like encrusted with sugar,

or pecked at by passing tits and dunnocks.

I pass the whole, ripe ones down carefully

to my granddaughter, who holds her bowl

high as she can. You look on, pleased for us both

and concerned. Later you will place the blushed plums

in a wide shallow dish of the deepest red

adorned with foliage –

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A TOKEN OF A COVENANT: MARCH 16TH 2018

And suddenly there, through the high sash window,

is a rainbow – lit by the westward sun –

from behind the church and over the park’s

leafless, lichened trees to the gated, faith school.

 

This is the season of illusion and sleight

of hand; the season of the braying bluster

of blinkered donkeys spooked by mayhem

in a cathedral city; the season

of the wet slap of the laundering of money

on the banks of the gun metal Thames;

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