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Beneath the rows of limes edging to yellow,

the air, tangible with precipitation,

appears almost emerald, a sea green.


In the border beside the high wall, which marks

the tended gardens from the unkempt woods,

there are blooms still. A bee gathers nectar –

and the black, turned earth ripples slowly

as a mole forages in the underworld.




Beyond ruined Troy, and north of Paradise

abandoned, from where our words began,



The fox came to his patio his first night

at the absurdly named Augustus Gardens.

The beginnings of emphysema –

slight punishment for nearly sixty years

of cigarettes – had forced the exchange

of a fifth floor city centre apartment,

with a view of the quays, for a ground floor

suburban residential home ensuite,

and the abandonment of decades of vice

with Passing Cloud, Lucky Strike and Gitanes.


He had been weary but sleepless;



‘…a very stable genius…’

DONALD J. TRUMP, Tweet 6.1.18.


One of the prints hanging in my grandmother’s

bedroom was Waterhouse’s ‘Echo

and Narcissus’. In a bosky, rather

English landscape, Narcissus and Echo –

before he became a flower and she a sound –

lie and sit respectively: she entranced with him,

and he with himself in the slow brook.


As a boy I thought it a picture

of a good looking chap and a pretty girl

with water and lilies,



I watched the TV parade of affluent

(and mostly public school) chancers, liars,

fantasists, hypocrites, law-breakers

vie to top each other’s warmed-up clichés

and self-serving platitudes. The social

and economic future dystopia most

seemed to desire would, they assured us,

bring out the British best in all of us,

just like the Blitz. I thought of bomb-razed

building lots in major cities still empty –

and a tale a cabby told me years ago,

taxiing me from the railway station.



Though we are not quite half way through November

four poppies are blooming in the front garden.

Papaver orientale: voluptuous,

shell-pink; stamens a dark heliotrope;

a cultivar by Cedric Morris, artist

and plantsman, who searched Suffolk’s hedgerows and fields

for common poppies with softer colours –

that simple weed the usual scoundrels

have made a shibboleth of belonging.


A night of wind and rain has downed all but one

in the narrow border, where sedum,



This October’s high water has almost reached

the top of the sea wall, its lapping

silenced by two oafish nabobs on jet skis –

iconoclasts shattering the seascape

of the Straits. Rain clouds along the mainland

are lifting, greyness lightening, slowly

becoming white – revealing early Autumn’s

gradual alchemy. Two porpoises

surface briefly out in the deepest channel,

swimming, in the remnants of the Gulf Stream,

from Cardigan Bay to Liverpool Bay.


As the tide drains northwards over Lavan Sands

from the unexpected south a cold breeze blows.



My first, and, so far, only – and that minor –

cardiac infarction fell on the date

of the sixty fourth anniversary

of The Battle of Cable Street, when the Jews

and the Irish stuffed Mosley and his Blackshirts,

the Old Wykehamist and his numbskulls,

the Daily Mail’s darling, a Great White Hope.




The consultant – of the old, aloof school,

and treated with awe by theatre staff –

liked Benny Goodman for accompaniment.



A small boy is digging in the Autumn sand.

Ships pass in the deep channel. Someone

has made a stand of driftwood twigs topped

with modest baubles. Directly below us

on the sandstone rocks is a dead buzzard

spread eagled – yes, almost literally

the right word – its head gone or hidden,

its exposed viscera gnawed, its talons

limp. We are humans therefore forensic

so discuss the causes of the bird’s demise

and mutilation: low flying aircraft, rats?

Some spring tide will lift whatever remains

of the magnificent black tipped wingspan

out into the oceans.



Walking down Renshaw Street from ‘Rumpelstiltskin’

at the Unity then along Bold Street,

with its strolling crowds and varied eateries,

to Central Station, thinking of spinning gold

from straw, we pass beggars in doorways.

‘What are they doing?’ our granddaughter asks.

We explain. ‘Why don’t they get jobs?’ We explain.


My mother would tell me how, when she moved

to London before the war to be a nurse,

she was appalled by the rough sleepers

on the benches along the Thames Embankment.



Pink-footed geese are wintering on the marshes

west of here – flocks from Spitzbergen, Iceland,

Greenland. This late October morning

the garden is full of noises: the trimming

and shaping of hedges, bushes, trees,

the blowing and gathering of leaves –

and high cries as a skein flies eastwards

to feed on wheat stalks in the stubble fields.


The afternoon is disturbed by sirens –

not fire or police or ambulance.

There have been explosions somewhere north

we are informed –