MONKS’ MOUND, CAHOKIA, ILLINOIS

The river valleys – Missouri, Ohio,
Illinois, Mississippi – are thronged
with prehistoric earthen mounds. Monks’ Mound
was lived on briefly by Trappists, hence
its English soubriquet. The city
of Cahokia – the name means ‘Wild Geese’ –
was six miles square, had more than eighty mounds.
At its thirteenth century zenith,
it was as populous as any city
in the then contemporary Europe.

The Trinculos and Stephanos came:
mockers and con men – drunken, violent,
slaughtering bison, fencing the prairie –
satraps of Washington and the railways,

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RANDOMNESS

As we walk on the path by the Dee, glad
a low wall keeps us from the river in spate,
its white waters covering the flat rocks
that stretch half across the river’s breadth,
waters whose unvarying roar fills the town,
we see, coming downstream from Chain Bridge,
bounced erratically by the relentless
torrent, a child’s ball, plastic, red, bright as new.

Later, as we cross the bridge to climb the hill
to the Llangollen Wharf Tea Room for
a welsh rarebit with smoky bacon,
having assumed the ball would already
have left Wales,

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SOME RISE BY SIN, AND SOME BY VIRTUE FALL

MEASURE FOR MEASURE AND THE THIRD MAN
TALES FROM THE SEWERS OF VIENNA

SOME RISE BY SIN, SOME BY VIRTUE FALL

 

Says Mr. Popescu – about Anna,
or Isabella – ‘She ought to go careful
in Vienna. Everybody
ought to go careful in this city.’ ‘Even,’
adds Lucio, ‘the fantastical
duke of dark corners.’ Tyranny has scope
in the paradox between nature and art.

The movie is shown, three days a week, on a loop
at the Burg Kino on Opernring. In the play,

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ONE FOR SORROW

Piero della Francesca’s painting
La Natività (oil on poplar panel),
hangs in London’s National Gallery,
‘acquired’ in 1874
after a botched restoration and being
slightly singed by an altar candle.

Top left is a winding Tuscan valley,
top right the artist’s home town, Sansepolcro,
more than half a millennium ago;
in the foreground, the infant Christ on a rug,
his mother kneeling, praying, beatific;
behind are five bare-footed angels, two
with lutes, two singing, one thoughtful, as is
Joseph, seated and looking away from
mother and son,

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WE ARE GATHERED HERE TODAY…

…treat jostled treat: a wedding one day,
a memorial service the next… from casual
pretension to pretended casualness…
hired morning suits, fascinators… chinos,
backpacks… he was a great man… they’re such a
suited couple… he instantly recognised
my genius… they’ve lived together for years…
in a modest Georgian country house in Wales –
transformed to a wedding venue with bought-in
statuary… in a Camden Town pub
with asparagus risotto and rosé…
we celebrated something – money, luck,
aspiration, achievement? Someone died,
someone married, we were invited.
Nothing of joy occurred,

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