September in the Capital

It’s an adulterer’s town, you see,
with warrens – if not warrants –
everywhere … stairs to a conspiracy
of fountains foiling the hearing
(while raking in the hush money)
… cul-de-sacs, a low clearing
where the costliest bottle decants
inside steakhouses, doorways’
velvet drapes imparting olés;
the lacquered black of sport
utility vehicles awaiting an escort,
if not a suited-up and damned
soon-to-be-subpoenaed maenad …

And all this complements
implacable monuments
at the ends of sightlines
to single-point perspectives –
massive pillars and paradigms
of statues and glyphs
dating back to temples and herms –
plus the bollards and berms
in the event of a truck bomb scare.
Fair enough that bringing her there,
then, you would feel served,
and falter, and be unnerved …

The sky of light concrete,
the rained-on concrete below,
the scuttling, indiscreet,
when accosting the hotel window
in a vague sort of recon
you beheld the street corner
where a lonely number met
a single letter of the alphabet.

Bees in Cider

It was a bouffant bee, almost as big as the rose it lit on –
and that’s the point: so late in the season was it, that
‘remontant’ – reblooming through the summer –
any blossom now was a shrunken simulacrum. So I lit on
the issue of all this sunshine leading to overproduction:
the roses I had counted in their furibund overproduction
showing diminishing returns. Something was out of joint
about the whole project, the projection of éclat
out of proportion to the product, which the bee imbibes,
the bouffant bee, with its understated point,
and those waxen wings that soften like a Roman tablet –
those waxen wings dissolving in light – whereas in Sumer
it was wet clay with its right-to-left writing,
and Greece, stone with its left-to-right writing
(like characters driving to or back from the sea), on lit,
depending on the home ground of farflung scribes
deriving a style or stylus or maillot or mallet –
but now it is late for a bee to be supping at the last ember
of an evening somersaulting from sepia to auburn
and the rose to be remontant as rain makes a sweep
(water tutoring me, or tutoyant, as they say in Dieppe:
on intimate terms), so late in the day that lodgers
leaving their rentals shrink to traces in beermakers’ ledgers.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences