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This poem is taken from PN Review 29, Volume 9 Number 3, January - February 1983.

Nixon, the Cheshire Prophet John Heath-Stubbs

for Bernard Saint

Black hair, a low forehead,
Sallow skin, jutting teeth,
Broad shoulders, big hands-he did his work,
Enough of it, in the fields,
But had to be beaten often.
Generally silent, but when the boys
Tormented him, he would run after them,
Making loud noises, grab them by the throat,
Kick them and thump them, till he was called off.

But sometimes something would fall on him-whether the
  moon's phase,
Or the wind in the right quarter caused it, nobody knew.
But he'd begin his prophecies, in a strange voice,
Chanting them, in rhymed verses.
Foreseeing the future-but in a jumble
...


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