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Tag Archives America

O BRAVE NEW WORLD!

On the third floor of Ca’ Rezzonico –

where gondoliers slept when the palazzo

was let to the song writer Cole Porter –

is Egidio Martini’s collection

of five centuries of Venetian art.

Three of the floors’ small windows survive,

each an intentional belvedere.

Two view the Grand Canal, the third south west.

The eye follows the perspective below:

a canal and its quay with inevitable

eclectic craft, stone bridges and turisti;

then tenements and the terracotta tiles –

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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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CONFEDERATE CEMETERY, ALTON, ILLINOIS

All of the names of the dead are Celtic

or English. Most of them died – in the prison

near the river –  from typhoid rather than wounds.

Nobody set out to be cruel – farmers’

sons killing farmers’ sons. Their graveyard

above the bluffs was grassed, an obelisk built,

their names cast in bronze, bolted to limestone.

From the highway, there is no signage.

Eagles winter on the  bluffs. America’s heart

is green and fecund: a confluence –

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THE STREET PARTY

Above every Mairie flaps the Tricolour.

On every lawn, in every yard through the gut

of America – where the Great Plains began

before the farmers came with wheat and pigs

and soya fields – Old Glory flutters.

Above the reception desk in every

riad in Morocco the king’s photo hangs.

Here, things are never that unambiguous.

 

In a street near the foot of the Downs,

too steep for tables, they have strung bunting

from house to house,

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AT MYCENAE 1984

Behind the lintel of the Lion Gate,

swallows had built their nest. Two Mirage jets,

burning Nato dollars, buzzed the valley.

A sweatstained, overweight American

squatted in the shade of the ashlar ramparts,

fanning himself with a bush hat. “Hey, which

pile of stones is this?” A veteran’s pension

kept him in exile. His mom and dad

had once stood arm-in-arm with that eager,

cropped marine recruit, who was altogether now

someone else. Thanksgiving and each birthday,

he would call collect.

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CONFEDERATE CEMETERY, ALTON, ILLINOIS

All of the names of the dead are Celtic

or English. Most of them died – in the prison

near the river –  from typhoid rather than wounds.

Nobody set out to be cruel – farmers’

sons killing farmers’ sons. Their graveyard

above the bluffs was grassed, an obelisk built,

their names cast in bronze, bolted to limestone.

From the highway, there is no signage.

Eagles winter on the  bluffs. America’s heart

is green and fecund: a confluence –

Illinois,

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