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LEAN CUTS

the station steams as doctor teases a married woman’s eye cups of tea brimming over, lees of wine, trains scream by flibbertigibbet the long low lines of meshes in graveyard fog pipsqueak steals vittles for the hulking convict agued agog Tojo’s train chunts tooting towards Kwai’s wooden bridge POWs bend iron rules, feverish jungle shivers matchsticks guiled by the FO, caressive robes, the sabulous folds of Arabia Lawrence’s blazing visions discharge guns and camels to Aqaba down moonlit hill, the stiff, uppity officer runs breakneck, lame his cailin’s passion charged with treachery, tarred by shame the red-flagged train puffs the white steppes of army patrols moon and stars framed by frost dissolve to storming petrels catching the moon in the Ganges, not her bespoke in Mirabar the mem-sahib salaams shaken, broken on wheel’s karma Michael Small

August, 1997


24 LEAN CUTS