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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

Two PoemsTim Liardet
Close
Close

Empath to the Punctured Kevlar Helmet

World is the head inside. The jump of the optic nerve.
Its Uzis are genteel. Its arbiters are deaf.
Add to it the lips that are less a grin than a grave.
Its guns hang like salamis. Though they are bereft
of protein they somehow often seem to bleed.
They’re tagged with the tenderloins. The new Pietà
is now only hands with no body to be lowered.
World is the otiose oils. It is the stigmata.
I am the lopsided and the flagrant heart
pierced by all the needles the blowpipes blow.
World burns in my acids. It is too much fat,
too much glucose. I offer it a stomach that by now
can only manage honeydew and cantaloupe;
I offer it hunched self, hair-fall. My baby tooth.

Your spinal reflex, coddling at its base the warmest ever spot,
so tiny, says: withdraw. It feeds your despair
through the reed of the street-player’s clarinet.
It is the mirror neuron, which looks at the war
and finds a war more terrible looking back.
It is gene and cloned cell. Whatever littlest grief
is a magnified self, which lowers, then cranes its neck.
Better, says the reflex, to feel nothing, if
every cell in you is someone else’s yell.
If the oily chain seems to make it hesitant
the lift that heads down, heads up. It is full
of black flowers. The narrow streets of existence
are all tight corners and tall trucks.
They are both through-routes. And cul-de-sacs.

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