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You are viewing Poetry

BEARINGS

They lie after loving in a shuttered room,

lit with an underwater vagueness,

replete with jasmine. They hear but

do not listen to the hoopoe calling

in the almond tree or the goats clinking

softly in the olive grove. They no longer

even hear the roar of the cicadas.

She lies in his arms. They sink into sleep,

lovers drowsing in a perfumed sea.


The spate plucks willows weeping from the banks

and careers them swirling, whether or not,

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PERSPECTIVES

From the long window on the half landing, I saw,

almost as soon  as you had filled the small bird feeders

under the pine and come inside, the big beasts land

to eat the scattered seeds – three wood pigeons, two turtle doves

and a solitary magpie –  then a cat appear, the birds scramble

and you again, shooing.

From where the hawk stoops, I heard the magpie’s

irrelevant chatterings, saw a tableau of live flesh;

saw our Victorian suburb from where the airplane flies –

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ARE WE NEARLY THERE?

The tide is at its ebb. Late sun quick-silvers

the narrowed estuary,  where river and sea

conflict and oyster catchers race upstream.

An ice cream van’s jingle jangle sounds

across the almost empty sands. ‘O sole

mio’… And you are suddenly there –

aged three – digging with purpose into the dusk.


Your daughter – that longed for, longed for joy –

already strives unprompted towards the sun,

scrabbling beyond the bounds of her play mat!

‘…n’aria serena doppo na tempesta!…’

How calm you are,

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THE DROWNED FIELD

The Duke owned both banks. The pleasure steamer,

stuttering, washed his clay into the current,

older than property. His oak woods moved

past us into dusk. We disembarked and

strolled between lascivious, attic blooms

to where, before the Great Hall, his Grace

had let the play be set. Like smoke on summers’

nights, the plot unwound down the lawn’s gentle slope.

The crossed, cross lovers mazed each other

but we knew how it all would end neatly –

the affluent young,

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ZELEZNIK’S THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE

Though there is no evidence that Busby

Berkeley was a descendant of Bishop

Berkeley (in spite of the Californian

connection),  who would deny that George

were the spiritual, or, rather,

philosophical ancestor of Bill.

Bishop George Berkeley, John Smibert, circa 1729

Busby Berkeley circa 1935

Hundreds of girls’ legs opening in unison

is a pure if anachronistic

example of the Irish Divine’s hypothesis.

And Busby was keen on fountains too!

Fountain Scene from 'Footlight Parade',

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A BOOK OF HOURS

 

'Fevrier' from Les Tres Riche Heures du Duc De Berry

'Février' from Les Tres Riche Heures du Duc De Berry

 

July

We are rather formally attired

for country pursuits in the ducal woods;

August

me with a tie and you, I uncover,

with white suspenders and matching knickers.

September

Intimate stranger, forever touching

for your least kindness, forever surprising;

October

unpredictable as light,

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DULCE DOMUM

Built well before the Mahdi sacked Khartoum,

like a ledger or the Church of England

our house is square, accommodating. Swifts,

each May, pronounce their southern benison

on ashlar cornerstones and dead masons…

A butterfly, lost in the wintry cellar,

seems closed as death but wings part knowingly.

O peacock eyes, how you seduce from purpose

and time! Imperial birds cry harshly

in paper gardens… At dusk, in indigo,

swifts dissolve. The house is white, seems solid

as a steamship.

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THE FALL OF EUROPE

The Assassin

The Assassin

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;

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ORPHEUS

The high windows caught the sky, varicose,

livid. The house was empty, unlived-in.

He hurried down wide paths strewn with rose petals,

wind-culled and faded. He searched borders,

bushes, her features imaged and snared in shapes

of angled branch and thorn, an orange sun

searing gun-metal clouds, the fountain sprouting

papery leaves, its bronze boy greening alone.

Ivy’s grasp crumbled artifice, obscured

the basin inscribed with a sonnet.

Soughing of breath or the wind in the arbour

summoned him into its close.

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CHUZPAH

A nor’ easterly blew – over Dutchman Bank –

on the front at Beaumaris, so we had

our chips, fish and mushy peas in the Vectra,

watching the ebb tide slowly, slowly expose

the furrowed gold of the Lavan Sands

and the cormorants and oyster catchers

skim the waves, when, suddenly, a herring gull,

that voracious omnivore, that frequenter

of rubbish tips and landfills – the colours

of its plumage pristine, as if painted –

landed on our bonnet and,

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