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36. Hat trick on the canal
A streak of wind tore off my hat and flung it far, in the canal, to drift,
to the ducks, who ducked, to avoid the thing,
but then they chuckled and took to it to play.

They tossed it from left to right and around. I took a stick to retrieve
the loved cover of my balding spot,
and poked among the gaggle of ducks.

But then a barge full of British guys came barrelling down from under the bridge,
spread out the ducks in frantic flurry,
and sank my hat.

But when it moved past, with the Brits all in beers and cheers,
the hat had emerged,
and I caught it with a flick of my stick.
35. Far ahead


She is far ahead of you,
the doctor said.


Not a shadow of a chance
to keep up.


All her lineaments stretched,
and ready to snap.


Don’t hold her back,
she is ready to leave you for dead.


Wills you to be still,
to receive what departs.


The final gasp resounds
for ever. You hold the line,


for want of reply,
length of a different wave.


You will tend her grave,
scratch out the weeds.


Plant flowers,
in winter bulbs


to blossom a memory
forever.
34. Look, daddy, look
In Serajevo, long before the insanity broke, 
we stood leaning on a bridge, each other, and you spoke look, daddy, look, and you pointed at I know not what,
I had eyes only for you. A minaret, perhaps, now reduced to ruin.

A bit later we rolled, overwhelmed by lust, in a patch of garden, next to a gate, barely covered by roses, unlatched,
where later a sniper took aim. I still taste in your hair
the dust we kicked up, feel a pebble that pricked in my back.

You sought in me what I could not offer, a shoulder of tweed, scent of a pipe, the father
you lost. And I was the young lad of love, who
worshipped you, reaching but never reaching, nor reached.

Do you recall, or has it all gone, disappeared, the moments that still the ticking, the pricking pebbles
of time, the taste of dust, now settled, and gone. Or is it not 
all undone, osmosis in the midden of your mind?


33. Winter train in Thüringen (region in former East Germany)
First posted in a Dutch version, December 2018

In its decline, the sun rolls along the rim of the hill.
Strokes her shoulder and side
down into the thigh
of the valley, where
in the rounding of the rill
she draws her glistening.

Shabby, decrepit, crippled remains of factories, beaten,
slink along the track,
incongruous doggerel.
Broken timber frame, cracked ribs,
the fill spills out. Cadavers
overwhelmed by graffiti.

The grid of the forest stutters the light.
Vertically, a red wall, a bony birch, empty, deserted, a church.
Horizontally, a dark sweep of earth, decked
by white that no longer melts,
hardens in the fall of  frost.
Light ripened to orange,
burning to purple.

The sun topples over the ridge.
A slight of light that lingers, glitters still, high
above the dark below, reflected
on lines of jet exhaust.
Pipe the sleeves of sky,
illuminated, pink, converge
on the horizon, point to the fall.
32. Deposition (painting by Rosso Fiorentino, Volterra)

Four men point, call out, with much ado, push and shove,
clumsy in this craft, not used to this,
precarious, hustle Him down,

heavy with the burden of sin. A man on the side wrings sorrow
from his eyes. A lad looking out
of place, why me, why here, what’s this,

holds a ladder, face away. A man who climbed up,
wobbly, to assist, looks away,
trembles, in fear or in lament.

Magdalena kneels, sunk deeply in folds of red, clutches the knees
of Madonna, held from a swoon. The colours
glory supreme, no matter what.
31. Diplomacy
Gaga with their glamour the plenipotentiaries congregate
to make a demarche.

Procession of forward a step and backward two, imperceptible to all not in the know,
nod yes to negation, confound affirmation.

Stiff in back and upper lip, they treasure the slack that language allows, to perform
a pirouette on points of standing.
30. Seminar on Krakmaro (Island off the coast of Stockholm)

Basalt bulges through the dress of green: there she lies in sea of cobalt sheen.

Swallows twirl the twilight, lack of dark. Yesterday I heard the song of a lark.

Clamber over wind-sanded rocks, In the linger of light that cheats the clocks.


At every turn the sea appears, when across the shrubs the view is clear.

Wooden houses stand on toes of sturdy rock, outreach any snow.

Waiting in rooms, at the top of the stairs, hang prim portraits of imprinted forebears.

Grandmother’s lace draped on the chairs, graces the presence of wealthy heirs.

Standing apart in the studded land leans an old latrine, with carvings by hand.

Hallowed by a tattered print of Christ,
ruminating above the pit of shit.

In a barn the scholars discuss, huddled in shawls,
against the whirl of wind that howls,

whistles through the slits of their wits.