In the latest issue:

The American Virus

Eliot Weinberger

The Home Life of Inspector Maigret

John Lanchester

Story: ‘Have a Seat in the Big Black Chair’

Diane Williams

The Last Whale

Colin Burrow

In Beijing

Long Ling

Princess Margaret and Lady Anne

Rosemary Hill

At the Movies: ‘Arkansas’

Michael Wood

Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen

At Home

Jane Miller

The Ottoman Conundrum

Helen Pfeifer

Poem: ‘Muntjac’

Blake Morrison

Piketty’s Revolution

Geoff Mann

Short Cuts: In Tripoli

Jérôme Tubiana

Coetzee Makes a Leap

Christopher Tayler

At Auckland Castle: Francisco de Zurbarán

Nicola Jennings

Drain the Swamps

Steven Shapin

Diary: In the Isolation Room

Nicholas Spice

Hectic RedJohn Kinsella
Close
Close

Quartz sparks randomly
on the pink and white crust
of the salt flats, spread out
beyond the landing,
where bags of grain –
wheat and oats
in plastic and hessian –
lips sewn shut,
packed tight, flexing dust
and dragging their feet
to the edge, are tipped
onto the truck – feed-
grain, filling out
the flattop, another body sack
waiting to be fed,
from top to bottom,
the sheep hollow-gutted
in the long dry, green-feed
deficient and this
the diminishing stock
of back-up tucker;
the best paddocks
up beyond the salt
all hoofed and bitten,
stray tufts targeted
and levelled,
dry roots crumbling
and dropping to dried-out
stream-beds beneath,
so no new encrustations
of salt emerge back down
in the low places, just the old crust,
pinking off – at night,
the crazy pick-ups
spinning wheels
and throwing headlights,
the bonnets rising and falling
in choppy waves, the light
as unstable as a camera
and the darkness dropping in
like black sacking; bleak rabbits
dashing about,
their blood infra,
the forecast – hectic red.

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