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March 2009, vol 5 no 1

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Ken Jones



Power Play, Role Play, Love Play

"The Great Wave"
and on a silken screen
the play of cats

School Speech Day: the platform party. Iseult is distributing the prizes. The youngest Divisional Education Officer in our county, she is admired and feared. Beside her is the Chairman of Governors and Deputy Chairman of the Urban District Council. I know that man, though my beard long since turned grey. And on the other side is that incompetent headmaster, Prothero. Together we have planned his professional assassination, scheduled for the next meeting of the Divisional Education Committee. For she and I are big beasts.

Beyond the sagging gates
bright barbed wire
stretched taut

Whether in committee, at a dinner party, or the county show, we play our public roles with gusto, marvelling at the weird deception. From time to time we ensure that we appear at odds, in the County Clarion. Soon we no longer live our lives; powered by an exultant folly, our lives live us.

Edged with her Irish brogue, the sound of her voice in committee, her raven hair pinned up. The sound of her voice in love, hair falling to her shoulders. Sprawling abandoned—- an empty pair of well pressed trousers. Cast on the sofa, that smart pair of slacks, the socks still peeping out

Sometimes in her white Triumph Herald, at other times in my Volkswagen Estate -- the one with the growling air-cooled engine -- we become intimate with the wilder parts of our county.

Into the wood
the broken gate
flung open

And we endow each other with all our other passions too. Reading Henry James and listening to Anton Bruckner, both once improbable, they give me pleasure still.

Strolling among tombstones
she unfolds
the story of her life

Her husband, on her birthday card propped on the mantelpiece, in that elegant italic of his:

"Tranquil pleasures last the longest; we are not fitted to bear the burden of great joys."

And. . ..,

Disappearing path
my sauntering wife
hands clasped behind her back

---------------

Now, I find myself in the town once more. All are dead or gone. To the dreams and recollections of this uneasy stranger, everything is blank indifference.

Alone in the County Park
two gateless posts
their long shadows

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