In the latest issue:

The Word from Wuhan

Wang Xiuying

‘The Man in the Red Coat’

Luc Sante

Is it OK to have a child?

Meehan Crist

Short Cuts: Ubu Unchained

August Kleinzahler

Bury that bastard

Nicole Flattery

Surplus Sons

Clare Bucknell

Oliver Lee Jackson

Adam Shatz

The Servant Problem

Alison Light

Poem: ‘1 x 30’

Anne Carson

The Old Bailey

Francis FitzGibbon

Jiggers, Rods and Barleycorns

James Vincent

More Marple than Poirot

J. Robert Lennon

On Rachael Allen

Matthew Bevis

Like a Ball of Fire

Andrew Cockburn

The Staffordshire Hoard

Tom Shippey

Blessed Isles

Mary Wellesley

At the Movies: ‘Jojo Rabbit’ and ‘A Hidden Life’

Michael Wood

Redeeming Winnie

Heribert Adam

Diary: A Friendly Fighting Force

Nick McDonell

Two PoemsGavin Ewart

Violent Passions

The mouth can be quite nasty in a bite
The lover’s pinch can be malicious too
Legs kick, as well as tangle, in a bed

Words can be harsh and not console or rhyme
Fighting is also love’s especial food
Hands can enlace with hands or round a neck

The tools that pierce can be unyielding steel
Attractive nails can score, like claws, the face
Fingers can spread on cheeks, harmful and strong

Hair can be pulled in war, that’s stroked in peace
The fighting female differs from the male
The spitting cat attacks the barking dog

Traditional: Nuisance Value

The cat jumps onto my desk as I write this,
he jogs my arm. I swear mildly.
I push him off. From a cat, it’s like a kiss
and shows affection. I would never wildly

adore him. But I like him. And he’s old
like me. And neuter. Equally into age
both of us travel, trying to keep out the cold
as Time assaults each silly one and sage.

Marriages thrive on loving irritation.
And you miss me the nights I am away,
an absent sleeping partner (copulation
now past). That’s what you say.

And I miss you. No Master is majestic
except to devotees of English Verse,
his virtues may not be at all domestic.
Housewifely traits don’t make me love you worse.

All couples living irritate each other.
I have my nuisance value – like a cat.
But still it’s value – Irritation’s brother
can still be Love, you see. Just think of that!

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences