In the latest issue:

Loathed by Huysmans

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: Five Victorian Marriages

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Fifteen days from now

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The Yorkists

John Guy

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Whitehall Spookery

Neal Ascherson

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Gordon v. O’Connor

Rupert Thomson


Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

Three PoemsCharles Simic

Wooden Church

It’s just a boarded-up shack with a tower
Under the blazing summer sky
On a back road seldom travelled
Where the shadows of tall trees
Graze peacefully like a row of gallows,
And crows with no carrion in sight
Caw to each other of better days.

The congregation may still be at prayer.
Farm folk from fly-specked photos
Standing in rows with their heads bowed
As if listening to your approaching steps.
So slow they are, you must be asking yourself
How come we are here one minute
And in the very next gone for ever?

Try the locked door, then knock once.
The crows will stay out of sight.
High above you, there is the leaning belfry
Still feeling the blow of the last storm.
And then the silence of the afternoon . . .
Even the unbeliever must feel its force.

The Altar

The plastic statue of the Virgin
On top of a bedroom dresser
With a blackened mirror
From a bad-dream grooming salon.

Two pebbles from the grave of a rock star,
A small, grinning wind-up monkey,
A seashell, bronze Egyptian coin,
And a red movie ticket stub.

A splotch of sunlight on the framed
Communion photograph of a boy
With the eyes of someone
Who will drown in a lake that summer.

An altar dignifying the god of chance.
What is beautiful, it cautions,
Is found accidentally and not sought after.
What is beautiful is easily lost.

New Red Sneakers

A lifetime of sleepless nights
Cannot alter the course of events.
Still, when has that ever
Stopped any one of us from trying, my friend?
Or so I told the dog trailing after me.

The fields and orchards were in flower.
The road we were walking
Wound laggardly through their lushness
In no rush to reach a destination.
My heart was a sparrow chirping
On a fresh pile of horse shit.

Happiness on all fronts!
Except for the two crows up ahead
Cooling their heels in anticipation
Of one of us being run over by a car.
It made the poor mutt tear after them
In furious pursuit, accompanied by
A righteous bark, that said it all.

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