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‘THE CARIBBEAN EXPERIENCE’

Our present government, unfairly perhaps,

is often caricatured as self-serving,

racist and incompetent – and yet,

with a rather modest investment

of taxpayers’ money, has published

a report which may revolutionise

our study of history, showing

not just the costs but the benefits

to victims of great crimes: ‘There is a new

story about the Caribbean

experience which speaks to the slave period

not only being about profit

and suffering but how culturally

African people transformed themselves

into a re-modelled African/Britain.’

 

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FROM THE TERRACE

Begun the year of Waterloo, finished

in that of Peterloo, built on rents

and sugar, this – according to Pevsner –

‘modest’ Palladian mansion sits

on a slope, a belvedere. Mature trees

overhang the erstwhile stable block,

now a spa. The hotel is a venue

for weddings – featured in ‘Bride of the Year’ –

and funerary teas, like today’s in sun.

 

From the terrace, and over the ha-ha,

sheep graze in broad fields hedged with hawthorn,

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APHORISMS AND INDEMNITY: AN IDEA OF AMERICA

For Clive Watkins

 

‘The maker’s rage to order words…’

THE IDEA OF ORDER AT KEY WEST, Wallace Stevens

 

There, as we drove past the Heritage Centre

that once was a medieval  church, on the steps,

among the shoppers and the trippers,

there on a provincial, English street

was a busker with a blue guitar.

 

And I thought of the poem by Wallace Stevens,

who did not drive, and walked to work each day –

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THE TRICKSTER

Whether the same crow as last year has returned

or this is a different crow with the same habits

is as much a metaphysical issue

as a zoological one – whichever

is the case the sequence of events

in the Great Lockdown is being repeated.

Early morning the crow flies in, and places

a piece of bread in the bird bath – where blackbirds

have bathed, and robins sipped; flies off; returns

in hours, and snacks on the marinated bread;

flies off;

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INCONSEQUENTIAL

A long section of the grassy bank beside

the ornamental lake is roped-off –

a pair of Canada Geese is nesting,

the first in the history of the Park

with its long-serving Coots and Mallards.

We sit on a bench and contemplate the geese –

almost as big as Mute Swans; adept

colonisers, considered still, after

three hundred years, non-native; this chance pair

perhaps blown off course between raucous lagoons.

 

We are distracted by raised voices

from the opposite bank –

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OTHER PEOPLE’S FLOWERS: Three Poems by Alan Horne

I read once – perhaps it was a quotation from José Saramago – that the writer’s life is the detritus left behind by the work. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it sounds better than any autobiographical introduction I can think up. I worked years ago in a steelworks, have a very longstanding interest in psychoanalysis and – perhaps it’s a reaction to all those clinics – now spend a lot of time outside. Here are three short poems which bear on these matters. Thanks to David for the chance to put them before you. At age 14 I found that we had a new English teacher called Mr Selzer,

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