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wToulouse Quartet ww14 December 2008

Shabby chords count the strides
of proud black girls
dying within St Etienne
thick with oil and the juices of plants
recalling a child in carved air with birds,
contemplating Guinness and football

The city runs on bald railway lines
and moist women's mouths,
poised over waters, scattering
conspiracies of small rose bricks,
and forcing machines to condense
the essence of a wait for the sun,
playing bit-parts beneath the universe

In the taut arcs of cheekbones,
seized and delicate pictures,
the slaves of framers and binders,
vault under stretched stone by
a discreet melodic deception that,
under the breath of erudite leather,
scarcely hears the obliqueness of kings

The rain licks at young dogs
below the soft gargoyles
roasting like eggs on balconies,
as fibrous houses long to melt,
cocooning their mothers
in post-historic amber.
And the lightning selects
red cars and old men
to explode in screams of delight


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Obliqueness of kings . . . The Cathedral of St Etienne in Toulouse. Picture by Barbara Fuller

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