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MAHON, Derek


The poets lie where they fell

There is no rest for the wicked.

Curled up in armchairs

Or flat out on the floors

Of well-furnished apartments

Belonging to friends of friends,

We lie where we fell.

One more shiftless habit,

It joins the buttered books,

Stale loaves and wandering dishes,

The shirts in the oven

And the volcanic ashtray.

Forgive us, this is our way;

We were born to this –

Deckchairs, train corridors,

American bus stations,

Park benches, open boats,

And wind –worried terraces

Of nineteenth century Paris.

Forgive us, we mean well

To your wives’ well-wrought ankles.

Their anthropomorphic shoes.

We love your dying embers,

Your happy moonstruck bottles,

And we lie where we fell.


Back home in mid morning

We wash, we change and drink

Coffee, perhaps we sing.

Then off we go once more,

Smiling our secret smile and only

Slightly the worse for wear.