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City Gent

 On my desk, a set of labels
or a synopsis of leeks,
blanched by the sun
and trailing their roots

like a watering can.
Beyond and below, diminished by distance, a taxi shivers at the lights: a shining moorhen with an orange nodule set over the beak, taking a passenger under its wing.
I turn away, confront the cuckold hatstand at bay in the corner, and eavesdrop (bless you!) on a hay-fever of brakes.
My Caran d'Ache are sharp as the tips of an iris and the four-tier file is spotted with rust: a study of plaice by a Japanese master, ochres exquisitely bled.
Instead of office work, I fish for complements and sport a pencil behind each ear, a bit of a devil, or trap the telephone awkwardly under my chin like Richard Crookback, crying, A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse! but only to myself, ironically: the tube is semi-stiff with stallion whangs, the chairman's Mercedes has windscreen wipers like a bird's broken tongue, and I am perfectly happy to see your head, quick round the door like a dryad, as I pretend to be Ovid in exile, composing Tristia and sad for the shining, the missed, the muscular beach.

by Craig Raine
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