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Robespierre’s Chamber Pot

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

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Rivka Galchen

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Revism

Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

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Toucans

Meanwhile in Costa Rica the volcano smokes
Toucans glide down to the banana plantation –
For the moment everything is relaxed.
It is snowing in Michigan, but I’m thinking
Of the newspaper story in September,
Two parrots building a nest on a silo
In Montcalm County – Guido points out
Alulu shadings above the coverts,
Assuming I’m a birder.
I like their beaks. Though am somewhat more
Interested in the volcano. Guido asks
For another malt liquor. He needs, he says
To return to San Francisco for surgery –
Turns out we know the same neighbourhood
And pubs. He talks of California girls.
This swirl of old habits and parks,
As in the feathering of dreams
Where everything’s altered but names –
The toucans are sometimes poisoned here

Guido touches the scar on his neck
Deb is kneeling, examining a beetle
The size of her fist. The birds darken
The horizon at dusk. In North Beach once,
Everything shifting beneath my boots,
I stepped from the curb at dusk into a turmoil of gulls

Whispering

The susurration at night grows malicious
As it should – the marsh is now marinas –
In that mixed light, gulls standing on pilings,
Soft maples where the streets end,
Ducks gliding, fish nipping the surface.
The water moils. Everyone was once
Young and lonely as well, when hairstyles
Were different. Too many miles on him,
The woman remarks, in the soda fountain
Off the short deck above water, insects
Spinning the hanging bulbs. He’s not
That old, says her friend. My point exactly,
She replies

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