LARKIN REVISITED

For Harry Chambers

 

After the posthumous exhibition

at the library, I walked with my daughter

(a student at Hull and sure she’d seen him once

in the lift) down Newland Avenue

to Pearson Park. I pointed out the house

where Larkin’s flat had been and told her how,

more than twenty years before, a  friend

and I had been persons from Porlock.

He’d answered the door in a dressing gown,

vest, grey flannels and, ruefully,

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THE SURPRISER

Flying to Athens and intensive care,

the injured Cretan motor cyclist died

some time in the night over Melos.

Shrieking her grief, his mother ran in the aisle.

A stewardess tried to calm, restrain her.

The boy’s bare, pale feet were protruding

from an orange blanket. The makeshift cortège

bore us faster than he had ever dreamed.

 

In couch grass, on Chester’s Meadows, a hedgehog

was embarrassed by death the surpriser.

A trickle of blood betrayed it –

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ONCE UPON A TIME IN AN AVIARY

Under a steel net – sponsored by a multi-

national – in a disused limestone quarry

were all of South Africa’s birds, except

the predators.

 

The black warden softly extolled the aviary’s

human values: calm, peace, gentleness.

How well he knew each of the inhabitants:

who delved, wove, fluttered, chattered, nested,

hatched, fed – and defended abundantly.

 

At home, damp autumn turned to cold winter,

birds pecked at the ice on the stilled fountain

and the coalition of the willing

prepared for war.

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MARJORIE BEEBE’S BOTTOM

For Ian Craine

 

‘Marjorie Beebe is the greatest comic possibility that ever worked in my studio. I think she is destined to become the finest comedienne the screen has ever seen.’  Mack Sennett

 

Marjorie Beebe in 'The Farmer's Daughter' 1928

 

Her bottom was a serious matter:

the butt, as it were, of numerous pratfalls

in many Mack Sennett two reelers – like

The Chumps, Campus Crushes and The Cowcatcher’s

Daughter

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