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An Ordinary Woman

Alan Bennett

Anglo-America Loses its Grip

Pankaj Mishra

Short Cuts: John Bolton’s Unwitting Usefulness

Mattathias Schwartz

Smells of Hell

Keith Thomas

Mrs Oliphant

Tom Crewe

Tippett’s Knack

Philip Clark

At Tate Modern: Steve McQueen

Colin Grant

Catherine Lacey

Nicole Flattery

Churchill’s Cook

Rosemary Hill

The ‘Batrachomyomachia’

Ange Mlinko

On Dorothea Lange

Joanna Biggs

Paid to Race

Jon Day

Poem: ‘Traveller’s Tales: Chapter 90’

August Kleinzahler

The Soho Alphabet

Andrew O’Hagan

Old Tunes

Stephen Sedley

Victor Serge’s Defective Bolshevism

Tariq Ali

The Murdrous Machiavel

Erin Maglaque

Diary: Insane after coronavirus?

Patricia Lockwood

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Poet’s Pepper Tree

Because I never wrote it,
your poem is better than mine.
Your birds have more colour. Their songs
climb up the down branches
of tall, weeping trees
the way clever birds might
if that was their reason.

They eat peppers
pink in their beaks.
The wind ruffles their vanity.
Right next to the scribbled sheets
of green spaces
you wrote to melancholy,
my joy erupts
like a vowel sound
upside down

screeching our wedding song.
I chew on your life on
your red cheeks
on the tongue in your head
that keeps ideas
spit at me
like seeds.

My jealousy for birds that are not mine
burns my groin.
I envy them climbing
up and down with their peppers
pink in their beaks. I envy
a wind that can ruffle the vanity
of whole birds
flying from bitterness.

Cassini in Heaven

The robotic Global Martian Surveyor
seeing a dozen circular craters
landed in a depression, in dust, forgot

stored orders. A cold beauty looking for ghosts
within range, looking for another us on a planet raw,
a really different kind of orbit to operate through

layers, which are wrapped in a ‘harmonious symphony’.
‘Queen Mary will host a major space conference’, her crown
realised in ‘sunlight from the upper left’. A thin

wind, but no windmills. No moon named Triste. This
is the way onions act, peeling layers and wobbling.
Cassini saw a halo of moons, Saturn’s metaphorically-

layered rings, not unlike a pearl necklace whirling
heartlessly, tearlessly, cut into rock, drilling
down to the ring-spinning pearl beauty. ‘Pearl onions’,

and I laughed, rich nitrogen and hydrocarbons, the bright
storm of the swirls and eddies near Phoebe’s lifeless
dark material. Wouldn’t it be another laugh if the

metaphor exploded our whole Theory of Innocence?
The mechanical tears gravitate into real moons.
‘There’s something I have to tell you,’ one of the

astronauts whispered, forgetting we were listening. The President
a vast void beyond our concept of good and evil, the
sun a hot dot, dead dustballs. So, not everything reflects love.

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