OH YES THERE IS!

Queen Scheherazade telling her stories to King Shahryar

Queen Scheherazade telling her stories to King Shahryar


You are Princess Ayesha, the principal girl,

in the youth group’s pantomime at St Barnabas,

West Street, Crewe. Disguised as a boy, you are searching

for Aladdin – your true, lost love – in the canvas

forest and the bazaar, among the painted caves

and the amphora. Heavily Max Factored, dressed

in torn shirt and ripped shorts – having crossed the desert,

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THE PRICE

Just beyond the lamp’s beam, where coal and dark

were one, was fire, flood, blast and rockfall.

Shoring bulged, split. Rock jerked through. Earth returned.

Exploited roofs fell, distantly like sighs.

How men loved life to work that labyrinth

crowded with frustrated lives! There were

children in the collapsed seams. There was dust

in ears, nostril, mouth, pores – ubiquitous

as death, death’s colour – and in the palm, a chance

shaving from the crushed forests, the suppressed

centuries, drawing blood.

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THE GREATEST OF THESE

All day I was accosted by the same

black wino who called me, “Sir”, who had not,

he said, worked for three years, had an illness

(unspecified) and never knew me though

we met outside the Tribune Tower, the

Art Institute, a camera shop on

Wabash, Berghof’s, and then under the El

at State and Jackson! Finally, as I

took my first Wild Turkey of the evening

while I stood at my hotel window, there

he was on the far side of Harrison,

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PARTING THE WAYS

Earthmovers roared, made a whirling progress

six days a week: a four-lane highway

to bypass our provincial town. Gone were

Traveller’s Joy, Heartsease, Love-in-Idleness.

Our wood and its narrow roadway – a lovers’

thoroughfare – severed. Only clay was left

from world’s edge to world’s end: a no-man’s-land,

a dried-up riverbed. One Sunday,

our daughter crossed the silent excavation

and, from the opposite bank, called out:

‘It’s just like the Red Sea!’ And she waved.

We acknowledged the future lovingly.

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