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The Grievance               Pete

Blood & Sand           Frisbee

 

The Grievance

 

Arriving from elsewhere, a merchant grew wealthy

in the market at Izmir.  Not without rivals, he soon

became known as The Democrat for the breadth of his produce:

mollusc and crab, clawed creatures from far-off salt water.

Though stories abounded as to his wives, their beauty and number

 

few claimed to have seen them, none could verify details.  

Every night after closing his stall, people told, he’d vanish

down the maze of high alleys where no sun or moonlight

could penetrate, pass through a heavy locked door and into

a courtyard of fig trees and roses before entering the house.

 

Reports spread that on Mondays he’d call out ‘Asifa?’

(who lived on her nerves), another day ‘Fatima?’ (whose eyes

were a lynx’s on fire), on others to ‘Mina?’, ‘Melika?’,

‘Cherifa?’ – and how only silence replied.  But when,

at the urging of mullahs, the police at last knocked

 

at his gate, none could explain how they found  

not a trace, not their scent nor the qualities and faults

only he had ascribed to them; and never, deep as they dug,

the fine loam of ash and crushed bone that in tales

such as this always nurture such bountiful gardens.  

 

André Mangeot

Runner-up, Wigtown / Scottish National Poetry Competition, 2006.
(Judge Don Paterson)

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                                          Pete

 

                        15ml French Vermouth

                         15ml Italian Vermouth

                                      30ml Gin

                               2 ds Maraschino

                  Small spoonful of orange juice

 

                                  Shake & strain

 

 

We'd fooled them, turned the odds on their head—

pushing out of the final exam, that's how it felt

 

two-thousand days, now those sacrosanct hours

of madness and mayhem were ours—

 

that long moonless night like a blessing,

taking us under its wing

 

as we stole up the clocktower, hoisted the effigy,

dismantled the gamesmaster's Mini

 

reassembled it inside the chapel,

strung tampons from rafters like miniature candles

 

3am, made that final planned charge down the valley—

past classrooms, goalposts, throwing off clothes all the way—

 

scaling the fence to the pool,

you ahead, rushing straight for the springboard, kicking off shoes—

 

twenty years on I can see it, that treacherous glisten

as I'm jolted awake, still lost for a reason

 

as you call back we made it!

as I catch the pale flash of your feet

 

why they drained out the water that same afternoon,

our last day of school.

 

André Mangeot

in collection Mixer,  2005, Egg Box Publishing,

ISBN 0 9543920 4 3

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                                          Blood & Sand

 

                                       20ml Orange juice

                                 20ml Sweet Vermouth

                                   20ml Scotch Whisky

                                   20ml Cherry Brandy

 

                                         Shake & strain

 

 

It was all I saw her drink—the only one

she wanted, as she wanted him.  Through the din,

the ringing tills, working there beside him you could sense

his focus on the door.  Each time she floated in

 

(a year back, give or take) he'd have the speedrail

and the sweet-talk primed, catch her eye

and draw her to the bar.  She'd lean in close and laugh—

then watch him work that shaker for his very life.  

 

Maya.  And who could argue?  Picasso-curved,

a mane of pitch, anthropology at LSE.  A babe.  

He had her number that first night—and she had his.  

Ah, my Ben, she'd coo, mi toro cariñoso—in such a way

 

I shivered even then.  Recalled the only bullfight

I have seen:  Majorca, long ago, a cheap and grisly thrill—

the fooling and the toying, the ribboned darts, the sword

secreted in the swirl of cape and cheers before the kill

 

while he, of course, just strutted, centre-stage, his grin

a counter wide.  Wouldn't hear a word against, even had I

guts to try.  She's ... I can't tell you, man (by now he'd

clock in hazy, late, a shadow) and I thought that's fine

 

I'd heard already what her tongue could do, how Toledo

was the place, why she worshipped Hemingway.  Bit my lip

as he grew pale, lost touch and weight, left the rest of us

to field each slip of change, forgotten order, half-arsed shift.

 

One night she simply wasn't there.  Smile and swagger gone,

from then he never spoke of her.  I couldn't leave it any more:

our free day, Monday, grabbed some beer and takeaway—

drove over to his flat, walked in the open door

 

and there he was, man of action—slumped out in a chair,

book upon his chest, ringed by empties.  Like a cape

just whipped aside, the poster of the matador had gone—

its outline left in dust, ripped plaster, Sellotape—

 

the bookshelves, too, were bare, the failing light outside

leaching each last drop of colour from the room.  

I went through to the kitchen, set to on the dishes.  Let him sleep,

that paper shield across his chest.  Death in the Afternoon.

 

André Mangeot

published in Bridport Prize Anthology, 2002

ISBN 1 900178 69 9

and in collection Mixer,  2005, Egg Box Publishing,

ISBN 0 9543920 4 3

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                                    Frisbee
 

                       (for Mark, in Miami)

 

We head up to the park—start winging it

out there.  The arm's a little rusty, the legs

 

aren't so hot, and after two or three sprints

to the treeline my lungs wheeze and steam

 

like out-of-shape kettles, our backs are glowing

and slicked in the twilight.  The curve, the hang

 

of that thing when you nail it—it's beautiful,

spinning off through the dusk, hurtling in

 

thwack to my palm as I'm running on

memories and sadness and something

 

like love—love of you, you one crazy mother,

whooping on, silhouette-sharp in the fireball.  

 

You were there when not many were;

pulled me through.  Now, five blocks to the bar,

 

we take them real slow, loping and groaning,

back to the neon.  Ease to the counter, watch a guy

 

pull the beer.  Man! you say beaming

and reach for your glass.  Man, did we burn it!

 

André Mangeot

published in collection Natural Causes, 2003

Shoestring Press, ISBN 1 899549 86 2

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