BETWEEN THE MONKEY AND THE SNAKE

We flew to Marrakech one January –

from dark, frosty, early morning Gatwick

to a view of the sun on the snow-topped

Atlas Mountains. Barely six hours from home,

we were in the Souk – ‘La shukran! Non merci!’ –

avoiding the blandishments, noting

the bartering and the credit cards. Relieved,

we emerged into the Jemaa el Fna,

the Marrakech Medina’s vast square,

with water-sellers, jugglers, magicians,

henna tattooists with their sample books,

peddlers of herbal medicines, dancing boys,

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THE MATTER OF THE HEART

A cardio-vascular consultant

told me I had subtle abnormalities

of the heart: a tendency, possibly,

to soften too readily, be swayed

too easily, feed on fantasy, harden

like the Pharaoh’s; be of kings, of lead, of oak,

of darkness;  bleed for my country, belong

to Daddy; be a lonely hunter;

be displayed on my sleeve; be in my mouth,

in the Highlands, left in ‘Frisco, buried

at Wounded Knee; like Luther’s, who feared his

was like a ship upon a stormy sea

driven by winds from heaven’s four corners.

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ABERFFRAW, YNYS MÔN

Sand dunes, sharp with pampas grass, muffle

Caernavon Bay, St. George’s Channel,

the Atlantic. The Ffraw’s estuary flows

narrow as an eel. The curlews call.

 

The non-conformist chapel is up for sale

and the visitors’ centre does funeral teas.

The highway bypasses the village,

though here, fourteen centuries ago,

was the urbane, Christian court of Cadfan, Prince

of Gwynedd. Nothing remains. The Vikings

razed the wooden palace. He was buried

some two miles away,

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THE INVERTED EUCALYPTUS

In the unlit room, the glass-topped table

reflects the crepuscular, upside-down

image of the tree. In this small picture,

the Moon is descending through its branches.

 

Through the window, a hazy full Moon,

trailing south easterly clouds, is rising,

with the shimmering Evening Star, above

the eucalyptus, across a darkening sky.

 

How fast we move through the universe and yet

how still the glass on the table and the panes

in the window, the tree and its image,

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CECIL AND PRECIOUS

Rhodes Memorial, Cape Town. SCES © 2009

 

‘Equal rights for all civilized men south of the Zambesi!’ Cecil Rhodes

 

I

 

Apparently, he loved the view from this spot –

the north east slopes of Table Mountain – indeed,

owned much of the foreground. The sycophants

of Cape Town built, with granite quarried

from the mountain itself, this monument –

with Doric columns and arcades (which he

so revered, apparently), bronze lions à la

Trafalgar Square and a pensive,

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