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As always, time sieves a myth from the facts:

the city — a pith spilled from the karst — 

has been pushed back into the yellow haze 

despite the ships’ urgent nuzzle at its quayside 


as if to leave room for the farmer cutting terraces  

from the bay’s blue potential, a shepherd

checking for rain: all of parish life and industry 

flowing up and to the left against the frame. 


Over there, the local rag’s society hack  

focuses on a celebrity shaking hands

coaxing a raffle with a megaphone

watchful for someone important. 


A school band, tuned awry like their uniforms, 

trombone flaring over sausage-smoky booths 

between which adolescents fumble, still half drawn 

to the dodge-ems; for the third time, parents wander


past the jams and doilies, the obeisant lavender,

encyclopaedias and airport thrillers parked like veterans 

in the sun, brochures on weed control 

blown to the perimeter.  A recruiter hands out air force caps. 


A group of young men tests their harness,

anxious to be off; kit creaks and chafes 

against the pulpy air; momentarily they feel 

their silly age, ostentatiously check the gauges. 


One falls from the sky; the others pass from our art 

as from our sight; old men in leather jackets chat, 

barely interrupted by the squadron’s shadow 

passing over the oval. 

Cordite, February 2018

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