In the latest issue:

The World Goes Bust

Adam Tooze

A nice girl like Simone

Joanna Biggs

The Arrestables

Jeremy Harding

Short Cuts: Built from Light

Daniel Soar

‘Cleanness’

Edmund Gordon

The Ghent Altarpiece

Julian Bell

You can’t prove I meant X

Clare Bucknell

At the Royal Academy: Léon Spilliaert

John-Paul Stonard

Conrad Jumps Ship

Fredric Jameson

How to set up an ICU

Lana Spawls

Poem: ‘Mayfly’

Fiona Benson

Follow the Science

James Butler

Diary: #coronasomnia

Wang Xiuying

Close
Close

A transit lounge, in 1981 –
I doze all night on a rickety chair
In God’s own country, where the Biblical Wars
Have still to happen. A cold sun,

A muezzin call, a man on a prayer-strip
At the dry-goods warehouse
Out by the runway. Sheds, a fuel stop –
And soon our wretched crew will reappear

From humping each other, in the first-class hotel.
I put aside Merton’s Elected Silence,
Learning to sit still.
Doha, Doma, what’s the difference,

And what do they do here anyway,
Where objects are weightless
In Duty Free days, and everyone seems to pray?
Years later, Bartholomew’s atlas

Makes it all clear, through the magnifying glass
Of Armageddon – one vast aircraft-carrier
Catapulting planes into abstract space –
Where now, a goat grazes,

And pearl-fishers dive between two dimensions
And what I would kill for is that single fly-blown Coke.
I open Merton again, just to keep awake.
I have not been paying attention.

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