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Graham Mort



Armistice Day


Voices bouncing off the river, fattening then

elongating where night fish surface to gulp

glimmers of neon then sink again. Echoes of


echoes, a volley of falling stars, water chipped

by the adze of city nights. There is no word

are no words separate from what things are.


Voices waking me five floors high in the

hotel, remembering how they woke me

earlier in the night, that I have to be who


I am supposed to be again today. A gull

ululates, I fumble on my watch so it can

give me its graduated permissions. I pull


back blinds and streetlamps submerge in

the river’s memory: longboats, the groan of

oars, their pogroms and fires burials, ash


spreading its grey feathers, evanescent.

Things in the street moving, sounds that

could be traffic or grinding of the earth’s


plates, something shaking, the incalculable

mathematics of remembrance crossing space

towards me: eleventh hour, eleventh day


eleventh month, a silence tuned, its single

note thick with harmonics. Where are you now?

That ring of poppies wilting against a granite


monument, my father’s neck chafed by khaki

serge, playing piano for the officers, doing

fire watch on a London roof, homesick


as searchlights plait their wickerwork.

My mother shaking down a thermometer

soldiers watching her, still awake in their


premonitions, mercury flicked into its silver

bulb. Where are you? Can you ever parley

with the dead? Can you ever forgive them or


each other or yourself? Your own sacred self

I mean, not the one who steps into you but

the one who might step out of you at last.




A. C. Grayling

Rebecca Priestley

Zephyr Teachout

David Toomey 

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