In the latest issue:

Loathed by Huysmans

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: ‘Parallel Lives’

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Indefinite Lent

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The House of York

John Guy

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Secrets are like sex

Neal Ascherson

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Caroline Gordon v. Flannery O’Connor

Rupert Thomson


Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

How to set up an ICU

Lana Spawls

Follow the Science

James Butler



Last year I was going downstairs,
now I’m going upstairs. Up there
is a rocking horse in red velvet.
I’ll dust him off with a crow’s wing,
then I’ll shake the kitchen ceiling.
I’ll jump off in mid-buck, onto
the round water-bed I bounced on
with black-haired, patchouli-scented X
to the drawl of Mick Jagger.
I’ll take the brass telescope to the window
to see if Mrs Voss is still undressing
with the blind drawn to her neck.
I’ll fit together the owl-kite
and, opening the window, I’ll feed
the kite to the sea wind,
wondering if it’ll reach Iceland.
I’ll rummage under the newspapers
till I find the carpenter’s set
my Grandpa bought me, the saw
just right for severing flex.
I’ll take a swig from the hip-flask,
then, locking the door, I’ll switch
the light on, and I’ll start sawing
three inches above the bulb.

The Bridal Suite

On the third night in the bridal suite
without the bride, he panicked –
he couldn’t handle another dream like that,
not wet, like he’d expected,
but not dry either – men digging holes
that they’d fill with water; donkeys
crossing valleys that suddenly flooded –
the alarm-call had a job to wake him,
to send him out from the huge bed,
past the corner kissing-sofa, up two steps
to the shower he hardly needed,
where he’d scrub himself clean as the baby
he’d hoped to start that night,
under the canopy like a wimple,
in that room of pinks and greens.
Naked and dripping, he’d rung Reception
to see if she’d rung, then he’d stood
looking out at the new marina,
as if he’d glimpse her on a yacht.
On the third night he could take no more –
he dressed, to the smell of her perfume,
and leaving her clothes there,
the wedding dress in a pile in the wardrobe,
he walked past the deaf night porter,
out to his car. He had no idea
where he was headed, only that she,
if she ever came back, could sample
the bridal suite on her own,
could toss in that canopied bed
and tell him about her dreams.

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