THE SILVER SCREEN

Let be be finale of seem.The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.’

THE EMPEROR OF ICE CREAM, Wallace Stevens

 

I try to imagine your childhood as if

it were mine – not just the steep terraced street

called ‘Coronation’ and the ice cream

factory round the corner at the bottom

but the cinema twenty feet away

showing double features every night

except Sunday and Saturday matinées

with The Three Stooges and Roy Rogers.

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HORIZONS

From this house on its hill the sea appears,

through a gap in the trees two fields away,

like a wall  – grey, green, blue: the horizon

straighter than any true line in nature.

 

A spider perhaps two millimetres long

has spun a web in the outside corner

of a window frame. It catches flies twice,

thrice its size daily. Our granddaughter

and I monitor it before breakfast.

 

The bullocks see us and, curious like

all young creatures,

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LESSONS FROM HISTORY

Snapped black and white in Kodak Verichrome,

more than seventy years ago, by an aunt

with a Kodak Brownie, I am supine

in a small pram. The park’s avenue

of lime trees in leaf suggests May

and therefore me, coverless, five months.

My fingers are clasped and bare feet are crossed,

like an effigy’s or a lounge lizard’s.

I am awake and eyeing the camera,

through half-shut lids, like an insulted

potentate – or an about-to-be-mardy

baby.  Behind me,

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THE FAULT

Unlike those of us whose curse is to live

in interesting times, those who walk dogs

is to have their pampered pooch revert

to the wilderness and find body parts –

as there on the shore on the bonny loch

at Christmastide, just at the point

where the road turns sharp right from the shore

and up the bank, where Rob Roy drove the kine

he had ‘stolen’, the geological fault line

where lowland and highland meet, the frontier

of so much English sponsored butchery.

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THINKING OF AMERICA

‘Unlike any nation in Europe, the United States holds whiteness as the unifying force.’

MAKING AMERICA WHITE AGAIN, Toni Morrison

 

Twenty five years ago – the year of the First

Gulf War, the launching of the World Wide Web,

the repeal of South Africa’s Apartheid Law,

and the ‘End of History’ – one August

Saturday in Godfrey, Illinois –

a town on the Mississippi bluffs –

I watched the wooden New England style

Church of Christ at Monticello cross the road,

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THE FALL OF EUROPE

Lucheni had waited all day in the pines

above the lake. When she passed, he begged.

Her equerry dismissed him. As always,

self-absorbed, she saw nothing: an anarchist

with a grand and personal design.

On the quayside at Geneva, a week

later, Lucheni, the labourer,

stabbed Elizabeth, Empress of Austria,

with a homemade knife. Her husband foresaw,

like her assassin, anarchy: armies

entrenching in Bohemia; riders

galloping from Buda; at the Hofburg,

Jews and republicans!

 

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