In the latest issue:

The American Virus

Eliot Weinberger

The Home Life of Inspector Maigret

John Lanchester

Story: ‘Have a Seat in the Big Black Chair’

Diane Williams

The Last Whale

Colin Burrow

In Beijing

Long Ling

Princess Margaret and Lady Anne

Rosemary Hill

At the Movies: ‘Arkansas’

Michael Wood

Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen

At Home

Jane Miller

The Ottoman Conundrum

Helen Pfeifer

Poem: ‘Muntjac’

Blake Morrison

Piketty’s Revolution

Geoff Mann

Short Cuts: In Tripoli

Jérôme Tubiana

Coetzee Makes a Leap

Christopher Tayler

At Auckland Castle: Francisco de Zurbarán

Nicola Jennings

Drain the Swamps

Steven Shapin

Diary: In the Isolation Room

Nicholas Spice


The Vintner’s Boat

The vintner rowed his boat
as close to the lake’s shore
as he dared, and in the prow
stood a five litre bottle
of his Cabernet Franc Barrique.
A big man, he powered on,
past sunbathers, past sleepers,
past fisherfolk, whose lines
he took care to avoid.
Behind him, a school of perch
grew in numbers, as if all
were reincarnated drinkers.
The odd shout encouraged him
to launch paper aeroplanes
carrying his email address.
One man swam after
him but was poked by an oar
and called a wine pirate.
The vintner whistled a chanson,
between swigs from a hipflask
– his prizewinning lie.
Overhead, the egg-sun fried.
He took a bite from a saucisson
and rowed his red boat on.

The Village of Scarecrows

In the village of scarecrows
every house has one
and some belong to no house,
stand there meeting the cars
that sometimes slow down.
And no scarecrow looks like another,
some are tall, some small,
one presents a smiling visage,
another a scowl, one is the priest,
another is the policeman,
a third is the village madman,
and guards the vintner’s cave,
then graces the label
of his best wine, which
the creator of the scarecrows
drinks free every night
to inspire him to new forms
of scarecrow, which he tests
on his two pet crows,
then plants before dawn.

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