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This poem is taken from PN Review 102, Volume 21 Number 4, March - April 1995.

Three Poems John Ash

A Coastal Shelf
Sometimes with friends it was good,
a not ungenerous dole -
the duck that was cooked and then discarded,
the stairs descending mountains to the city,
days that sped by like trains heading south through France.
For every mood there was a muscle and a massage,
and the hot springs cured all ills. I could look at the bridges
and the blond hills where the grass spent longer in dying
than any diva, but nothing new came to my hand,
and the lack was like an envelope, empty yet addressed.
In the flat lands were miles of dishevelled artichokes.

O if I said that please forget it,
as I have forgotten it…


The bed shuddered as I slept, and the child
returned, pale and alarmed, from the room of masks.
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