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Democracy? No thanks

Eric Foner

The Bournemouth Set

Andrew O’Hagan

Short Cuts: How to Block Spike

Rupert Beale

Poem: ‘Lark’

Anne Carson

Mussolini’s Unrealism

Edward Luttwak

Characteristically Spenderish

Seamus Perry

Waiting for Valéry

Michael Wood

Bilingualism

Michael Hofmann

The Case for a Supreme Court

Stephen Sedley

A Great Wall to Batter Down

Adom Getachew

At Las Pozas: Edward James’s Sculpture Garden

Mike Jay

He’s Humbert, I’m Dolores

Emily Witt

Archigram’s Ghost

Jonathan Meades

‘Love at Last Sight’

Chloë Daniel

Instapoetry

Clare Bucknell

Scotland’s Dreaming

Rory Scothorne

Diary: In Guy Vaes’s Footsteps

Iain Sinclair

Close
Close

What did he want from me.
I visit old Europe.
I fail at purity.

I do not find Marietta.
I didn’t really look for Marietta.
I wouldn’t know how to recognise the woman.

Atrocity tourism
offers the poet many an opportunity
to get pure.

Before leaving for Krakow
I got a call
to visit Lezek.

Now you have seen her
perhaps you will be inspired.
Turning to the camera.

A tree with split trunk.
He goes to the wall.
Takes down a photograph.

My hotel in Krakow
is full of poets.
I cannot sleep.

This is my dear sister
he said.
Forgive me.

Each tick of the clock –
there is no clock.
I am ticking.

All night the interesting iron sky
is hammered
by great blows –

is he making trestles?
The ironmonger of Krakow.
My brain foams.

There she is
with her divided being.
Perhaps a day in spring.

A suicide.
A transparence.
A woman standing in front of a tree.

The trumpeter of Krakow,
Lezek has warned me,
is hit by an arrow

each hour
in the middle of his song.
Don’t bother yourself

looking for her
said the stones.
He broke off.

On this street and that street.
Her silvery hand.
Without a trace.

Forgive me.
Today I attend a panel
On Poetry in the Age of Mass Culture.

Stop blushing.
Just be here.
Dogs in the park have wicker muzzles

and a gloomy core.
The panellists quiz me
on Hellenistic graffiti.

Oh glove of light.
Marietta
a woman standing in spring.

Later we all attend an
evening-long
‘tribute to Milosz’.

Not every Pole (it seems) approves
the massive eyebrows:
bit of a rift

between Krakow taste
and Warsaw taste.
I didn’t really look for her.

He put the photograph
down near me.
Happiness on the face.

A clear birdslapped Sunday
for our bus trip
to Auschwitz.

Always I have seen
the same photo,
the long blank barracks,

scraped soil, void sky.
In fact it is on sale here.
One hand hidden.

Smell of hair.
Two tons in a room.
Birkenau is much more blank,

whistlingly blank.
Our guide answers questions
in a compressed tone.

Other hand – turning
to the camera perhaps
holding something, a cigarette.

Two young poets
at the wall of death
photograph each other.

Our guide has been leading
tours at Auschwitz-Birkenau
for 26 years.

Lost in a blur of silver light just in front of her body.
So after
the camps

a heavy lunch
in another town
and disputes about the bill.

Tonight our final panel
On the Case against Poetry,
our final pierogi.

Is there such a thing as
I feel the night close in?
That wind

through empty barracks.
I didn’t know what to look for.
I blush to recall.

Marietta a woman
standing in spring,
her hand already gone to the other world.

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