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

Four PoemsEdwin Morgan
Close
Close

Junkie

The old suspension bridge was shaking.
The junkie on the rail was making
One last hazy calculation,
Climbed over, dropped his desperation
With his body. The grey river
Closed on thin flesh and thin shiver.
He had not thought there was a boat,
A boatman, looking for the float
Of life to save or drowned to gaff
Or some poor soul who’s half and half
Glazed between heaven and earth to pump
Till the hushed heart begins to jump,
Or not. The lurking boatman caught
A splash, and shone his torch – fraught, fraught! –
Sighed as the almost weightless soul
Returned to find its casing whole
And the long struggle to divest
Illusion of its interest
Begun. Give him the saving grace
To set his second life in place!

Gallus

A grey damp day in Stockwell Street.
Puddle or two – mind your feet.
We picked our way, the three of us,
Job completed, without fuss,
Sound recorder with furry mike,
Interviewer striding like
One late for lunch, interviewee
Flanked by technology, that’s me.
A youth attached himself. ‘Radio I?’
‘Radio 3.’ ‘Whit band’s that oan?’
‘Ninety to ninety-two.’ ‘Ur you a Sir?’
‘No, I’m a poet.’ ‘Great, see ye la’er!’
He gave a thumbs-up, darted away.
He would turn night into day,
That one. Just watch death, watch dread
Cringe and blanch as he bounds ahead.

Widower

Well now, here is a true tale,
The Bossy Woman and her Male.
The wife was like a galleon,
Her bosom glittered, her frown was thrawn.
Her musquash was not faux, her talk
Clicked smartly as her court-shoe walk.
She had a husband whom she kept
On a short leash; she never slept
(Or so they said – her eagle eye
Was on him, whatever he might try).
Her man was passive, without rage.
She saw him as an appendage.
But then she died, and what d’you think?
The man trod air, quite in the pink,
Bought ties, played music late at night,
Had friends round and they all got tight
But jolly, bought a wolfhound too
Which showed the neighbours who was who.
We all applauded the transformation,
Indulging him his late salvation.

Leonids

Look now, look quick – a shooting star!
Make your wish! It’s very far
From here to where the active light
Set out and streaked across a night
In Glasgow’s greatly dark November
To die there, a supernal ember.
What was your wish? You wanted more?
It’s granted! Up there is a store
Of light. It’s breaking now in showers
Not of stars but meteors,
Spark after spark, scattering, dying,
You could send your wishes flying
In thousands, born, reborn, delighting
To be part of that bright sighting
Which disappears and yet appears
Again in our unlonely years.

Send Letters To:

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

letters@lrb.co.uk

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