In the latest issue:

An Ordinary Woman

Alan Bennett

Anglo-America Loses its Grip

Pankaj Mishra

Short Cuts: John Bolton’s Unwitting Usefulness

Mattathias Schwartz

Smells of Hell

Keith Thomas

Mrs Oliphant

Tom Crewe

Tippett’s Knack

Philip Clark

At Tate Modern: Steve McQueen

Colin Grant

Catherine Lacey

Nicole Flattery

Churchill’s Cook

Rosemary Hill

The ‘Batrachomyomachia’

Ange Mlinko

On Dorothea Lange

Joanna Biggs

Paid to Race

Jon Day

Poem: ‘Traveller’s Tales: Chapter 90’

August Kleinzahler

The Soho Alphabet

Andrew O’Hagan

Old Tunes

Stephen Sedley

Victor Serge’s Defective Bolshevism

Tariq Ali

The Murdrous Machiavel

Erin Maglaque

Diary: Insane after coronavirus?

Patricia Lockwood

Two PoemsTom Paulin

Waftage: An Irregular Ode

All my mates
were out of town
that lunk July
and though we shared a bed still
it was over –
she’d paid the rent
till August first
so each bum hour
those rooms threw back at me
this boxed-up, gummy warmth
like a pollack’s head and eye
wedged in an ironstone wall.

Most every day
she’d paint
in the loft above the stables
while I wandered
right through le Carré –
Murder of Quality
was where I started.
That dower-house,
it felt like a forced holiday
or some white theatre
on the Sabbath –
wide-open but empty.

At night we’d mount
this slippy mime
called Boffe de Politesse
it worked out best
in the bath, I reckon –
a kind of maritime
bored experiment,
chorpy with farts
and soap torpedoes.
One dayclean, though,
when a pouter-dove
was crooling

like a soft hoor,
I thought how James Fenton
read Shakespeare in Saigon –
got the complete works
in dime paperbacks
on the black market.
Bit by bit he’d foreground
‘the subterfugue text
within the text itself’,
and turn wiser –
aye, much wiser –
than us boneheads here.

‘It was quiet
in the Circus;
Bill Haydon wafted
down a corridor ...’
for a geg one day
I bought this tin
of panties coloured
like the Union Jack,
but she slung it in the bin
and never breathed
the least bit sigh.
‘Va t’en!’ she spat,
‘I just can’t stand you.
No one can.
Your breath stinks
and your taste
is simply foul –
like that accent.
Please don’t come slouching
near my bed again.’
So, real cool, I growled,
‘Lady, no way you’ll walk
right over me.’
Dead on. I chucked her then.

The Rosetta Stone

We were real good
and got to share a desk
that smelt like the head’s Bible
when I lifted up its lid
and nicked a sharp HB
from Eileen’s leather pouch,
knowing that she knew
but would never tell on me.
There wasn’t a single hair
between our sleeping legs
that I could ever see –
only that spiky différance
waiting on history.
Hers was a little plum,
mine a scaldy that could pee
yella as the tartan skirt
she slid one tiny bit
to let me touch her pumice-silk,
chalky like my glans might be.

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