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This poem is taken from PN Review 138, Volume 27 Number 4, March - April 2001.

The Blue Company James Sutherland-Smith

Some months before the year of revolutions
a late friend took a train into the heartland
of what was held up as a model of despotism;

a stopping train, in his compartment
one other passenger clad in a blue suit
needing thirty minutes attention from a stiff clothes brush.

Opening a mildly indecent magazine
this other proceeded to masturbate
for two hours of the journey before alighting

at a border post somewhere between pine forest
and pine forest. He was not flagrant, of course,
this was the heart of despotism, but furtive, rubbing

at his groin beneath the magazine.
My late friend tried changing compartments.
The guard checked his place card then scolded him in a language

he cold not possibly understand
...


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