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This poem is taken from PN Review 249, Volume 46 Number 1, September - October 2019.

City of Trees John McAuliffe

‘their greenness is a kind of grief’ — Philip Larkin
‘I would give Manchester back to the shepherds’ — Oscar Wilde

At the Town Hall valedictory do, the curator’s art in parks –
her metal tree – and the gallery’s diversity, get credit,
which she abjures: ‘luck is the residue of design’,
a quote which, around the room, sparks
applause, not for herself, or the line,
nor of course the fact that she is heading south,
but that it asks for this new order to be acknowledged,
and sees the city’s sprawl as managed.

Cycling back, under the candled chestnuts, past her gallery
and through the Curry Mile’s neon influence –
its last two Irish pubs, the Clarence
and the Whitworth refitted now as a Christian café
and a chrome-and-glass shisha bar – the crowd
is nothing on the night twenty thousand Libyans invaded

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