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Robespierre’s Chamber Pot

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: Five Victorian Marriages

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Society as a Broadband Network

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Fifteen days from now

Thomas Jones

In 1348

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Revism

Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

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Three PoemsMichael Hofmann
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Summer

For months the heat of love has kept me marching

Robert Lowell

I snap my boy’s bow
in the morning, wash his stiffy at night, blow my brains out
with music, anything from ‘Ballade von der sexuellen Hörigkeit’
to ‘Sexual Healing’. Je te veux.

The vaunted sod
under my feet is rolled up like a piece of turf or a blanket
in my grenadier’s knapsack, along with a toothbrush
and near-pristine candle end.

A loose cannon
combing the phone book and the small ads for friendly addresses,
a nine-year-old regaling my parents with the Roget’s
entry on sex. ‘Anyone for urolagnia?’

Pulling on the telephone
like a bottle, a permanent unendurable fluttering in the diaphragm,
dogdays, the sighs of the Pléiade, planets in love,
mouthsounds, genie, come.

Hyde Park
twenty-four hours apart, Baker Street from the top of a bus,
the curve of the overground train past your house,
past mine, nowhere to grip in the slippery city.

The London plane tree by my window
hangs its green leatherette sleeves, exhausted by a hard May.
My varsity jacket. The sky between leaves is the brightest thing in nature,
Virginia Woolf told the inquiring Rupert Brooke. Whatever.

Laisser-faire

I can really only feign disapproval
of my youngest
dibbling his semolina’d fingers
in the satiny lining of her red coat.

Is it decided

Planetary weather, A glittering
canopy of gas, otherwise not a cloud.
The sweet creep of green this English summer.
Trees addled by heat and monoxide
put out panic shoots they probably can’t afford,
that then again might be the future.
I get out of breath walking twenty minutes
to the bank to draw money,
new spicy beef and tomato fifties.
I’m in mourning for my life –
                      or ours; or ours?

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