In the latest issue:

Boris Johnson’s First Year

Ferdinand Mount

Short Cuts: In the Bunker

Thomas Jones

Theban Power

James Romm

What can the WHO do?

James Meek

At the Type Archive

Alice Spawls

Where the Poor Lived

Alison Light

At the Movies: ‘Da 5 Bloods’

Michael Wood

Cultural Pillaging

Neal Ascherson

Jenny Offill

Adam Mars-Jones

Shakespeare v. the English

Michael Dobson

Poem: ‘Now Is the Cool of the Day’

Maureen N. McLane

Tativille

David Trotter

Consider the Hare

Katherine Rundell

How Should I Refer to You?

Amia Srinivasan

Poem: ‘Field Crickets (Gryllus campestris)’

Fiona Benson

Diary: In Mali

Rahmane Idrissa

Three PoemsJamie McKendrick
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Postcard

Ciao bella! we’re near this stretch of Emerald Coast,
but the sea view’s even better: soon as we landed
S whisked us off on his motoscafo Magnum
for an eyeful. I see how he got his nickname –
small as a jockey, all male, gallantries galore. & fun!
Stress-free zone, except for a 3-way phone conf with the Prez
– cause for concern being the shrine at Najaf.
Arrogostine to die for, and heavenly wine.
Serenaded by Cuban Adelina, followed by fireworks –
V I V A T O N Y writ across the night!!!
So much for ‘a discreet visit’ – not his style at all!
It puts Cliff’s Barbados villa to shame:
think a Greek-style amphitheatre made of granite,
think endless orchards and a proper lake.
Tomorrow it’s back to Prince Strozzi’s estate,
for more sun and Chianti! T’s almost got a tan!
Call you when we’re back, love and kisses, C.

The Conquest of Albania

of course it could be done,
it was like the conquest of Albania … not wanting
to be left behind the Germans, Good Friday ’39,
Il Duce gave the word that sent the gunships
from Brindisi … they had real trouble landing
till 400 warplanes saw the troops
arrive in Tirana, and the tricolour
planted as far south as the Greek border.
Within days, King Zog, his queen and son
were scuttling in exile from one capital to another.
This would spoil Chamberlain’s holiday in Scotland,
but his protest was so mild, Ciano wrote in his journal,
it might have come straight from Palazzo Chigi.
Sure enough a friendly government was installed
under the puppet Minister Shefqet Vërlaci
and the place was considered de facto annexed.
Next stop Greece, but there things were to come
undone

Obelisk

There are certain houses built
not to be lived in – long
houses pyramids and this
the Axum Obelisk
that stood nearly seventy years
an exiled axle
near the Circus Maximus
whilst at its home in the Horn
a site’s been dug a pit a pause
a prolonged hiatus
that mortal span’s an eyeblink
in its career made
to measure and memorialise
deep time a dial
for solar or for astral time –
solo un attimo
but children now grown old
remember its removal
when thinking like a Roman
Dux Mussolini spoke
have it shipped to Rome
to celebrate a victory
won by poison gas
re-erecting its five
fallen pieces each almost
unbudgeable the whole
some hundred and forty tons
– cut with helicoidal wire
those same dismantled blocks
still wait for their return
in a Fiumicino warehouse
an airport longhouse
on the first available US
Galaxy plane
certain houses have no space
inside for living
though some like this are fitted
with doors front and back
and windows which won’t open
rock-solid granite
that waits on us and fathoms space
but now it’s time high time
this long house went home

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