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In Quarantine

Erin Maglaque

Après Brexit

Ferdinand Mount

Short Cuts: Springtime for Donald

David Bromwich

Meetings with their Gods

Claire Hall

‘Generation Left’

William Davies

At the North Miami Museum: Alice Paalen Rahon

Mary Ann Caws

Buchan’s Banter

Christopher Tayler

‘American Dirt’

Christian Lorentzen

Fiction and the Age of Lies

Colin Burrow

In Lahore

Tariq Ali


James Lasdun

Rereading Bowen

Tessa Hadley

At the Corner House

Rosemary Hill

William Gibson

Thomas Jones

Poem: ‘Murph & Me’

August Kleinzahler

The Stud File

Kevin Brazil

John Boorman’s Quiet Ending

David Thomson

In Shanghai: The West Bund Museum

John-Paul Stonard

Diary: The Deborah Orr I Knew

Jenny Turner

The WarningMatthew Sweeney

That sizzling morning, I lay on the lawn,
beneath the totem pole I’d brought back
from Nevada, and painted white and black,
to ward off ghouls, ghosts and evil men.

I had Coltrane playing from the hallway
and was humming along. The black cat
was poking and hissing at the white cat,
when a crow landed a couple of feet away.

Both cats scarpered when he opened his beak
and cawed, dropping a piece of red paper,
to be exact, a neatly folded page of notepaper,
as I saw when I stretched out an arm to check

what he’d brought. It was typed in blue ink,
and purported to be a warning in rhyme –
including archipelagos of identical rhyme –
that this garden and others would soon stink

of putrefaction, and I and the cats would lie,
decomposing, beneath the striped pole,
the ludicrously inappropriate, exotic pole
that was supposed to enable me not to die,

at least for a century. That’s what the man
said when I’d bought it, the Native American
who claimed he was the only real American,
he and his dwindling kind. I needed that man

now. He was one who could talk to crows,
I was sure. Hadn’t he shouted at an eagle,
a symbolic, black and white, bald eagle,
that was America. I loved his long nose,

his lopsided dance under the full moon,
tipsy with whiskey, then his croaked song,
his sharing of that famous, patriotic song
I forgot as soon as we stood under the sun.

Anyway, the crow flapped and flew away,
without a sound. The cats scuttled back,
lovey-dovey now. I stretched my long back
and got to my feet, to make my sad way

out from under the totem pole. Why me?,
I asked, as I walked back to the cool house,
the suddenly transformed forever house.
There was no answer from the boiling sky.

The cats ran in, black and white, around me.
I looked out at the black and white pole,
the beautiful, appropriate, necessary pole.
I poured myself an unseemly early whiskey.

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