THE ROOFS OF MARRAKECH

Were storks here before the Berbers descended

from the hills, creating the ochre city

on the plain and sailing to Iberia –

or did the birds come to build their immense,

intricate nests because there were towers?

 

Flocks of satellite dishes point eastwards.

Beyond the Atlas Mountains, snow covered

deeply now, are the Sahara Desert

and the immemorial routes south to the green

and desperate countries of West Africa.

 

In the nearest mosque,

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POET AND PROFESSOR

‘The spring recoils upon us like a myth…’ The Professor, Kenneth Allott

 

We would meet occasionally, by chance,

outside lectures or tutorials,

near the bus stop by the Philharmonic Hall,

Professor Ken Allott in from the suburbs,

me from various damp, cold flats in Toxteth.

He would always speak and would always ask

about my writing. ‘A young man’s game,’ he’d say,

smiling. He was in his fifties then,

his two volumes out of print.

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RIVERS OF BLOOD

I think of a freckly, fair haired lad

of fifteen, an Irish Traveller –

from that nomadic, hard grafting culture

spawned by the Great Famine. As he ran

from danger across a playing field

he tripped and was killed by two youths, fellow

Catholics with Irish surnames, one of whom

allegedly said, as he stamped with both feet

on the boy’s head, ‘He’s only a fucking

Gypsy.’ The judge did not consider the crime

racist. (Possibly the manifold

ironies had leached into his judgement

and atrophied it).

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POOR DAPPLED FOOLS

Out of the rutting, summer undergrowth,

a rasping roar… Saxons considered them

the mark of kings… Celts believed they were fairy

cattle, herded and milked by goddesses…

 

Though hundreds of thousands are culled or die

on the roads each year, we may have two million

wild deer because of autumn planting,

mild winters, new woodland and the death

of the lynx: ruminant, secretive,

destructive by default in residual

forests, on moor land, in the green belts

that join towns to cities – 

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