EXTERMINATE THE BRUTES

For Alex Cox

‘I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes.’ Winston Churchill

As usual, he dresses for town
in anticipation of the King’s summons –
which never comes. After breakfast, he reads
The Times and the Daily Telegraph, notes
Ghandi’s lenient sentence of six years
in prison without hard labour – then,
reflecting on unrest throughout the Empire,
puts on his smock and his homburg and strolls,
cigar lit, the short walk to his studio.
He pours a small portion of Johnny Walker –

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WATCHING THE LAMBS

From the Ackermans’ seat near the lift bridge
on the Llangollen Canal – tree-lined
for the most part but open here – the view
has become a perennial favourite.
We watch cyclists, joggers, walkers pass,
and the narrow boats that have journeyed
from Nantwich, Dudley, Worcester – and we nod and smile.
But best of all in late March/early April
are the lambs on the pasture opposite
that rises, with occasional oaks,
gently to an escarpment that ends
beneath high limestone cliffs that sever the sky.

This part of Wales was once near the South Pole –

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LA PALMA

For Caroline Reeves

The airport signs are in the four languages
of Spain – Basque, Castilian, Catalan,
Galician – three of which Franco outlawed.
(Our Eroski bag will tell us how to
recycle it in all four). El Caudillo,
slightly chinless, rendered the country
tongue-tied for a generation and more.

We arrive at the same time as the swifts –
which buzz our apartment’s balcony
at sunset and loop across the clay-tiled
roof tops and past the Moorish chimneys
– and the last of the vendavales
blowing round the Gothic cathedral
and the archway to the walled Arab harbour.

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THE GARLAND

Walking on the towpath of Telford’s canal,
admiring the engineer’s genius,
from the horseshoe shaped weir on the Dee,
which siphons off the mountains’ waters
to fill the channels from here to Hurleston;
remarking the current that combs the grasses
that lie on the bed like Ophelia’s hair;
breathing in the smell of the wild garlic –
a favourite of brown bear and wild boar;
marvelling at its white starbursts, like snow
on the wooded banks below the canal;
passing the holiday narrow boats –
with their tvs and showers and toilets;

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A PUBLIC MAN

i.m. David Robinson

At the celebration of his life –
in an erstwhile garrison church now
educational centre – there was music,
applause, laughter, sadness, his cardboard coffin
with red roses and his panama hat.
And it was as if he were there – as he was,
for sure, in the gathered memories
of the many present and the many,
in absentia, who had written.
The order of service commanded
‘All Sing The Red Flag’, and printed the words –
and most did, not just the comrades like us
who savoured and relished his serious joke.

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