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This poem is taken from PN Review 140, Volume 27 Number 6, July - August 2001.

Four Poems James Michie


At Any Rate

'He's dead,' they shouted as he left his motorbike
And catapulted twenty foot through air
And dented earth. They wanted him to be dead
Out of a sort of innocent malignance
And being born dramatists the lot of them.
And dead he was in the end. The blood gushed
From his ears. 'He's dead,' they told the doctor,
Though he wasn't, as the doctor saw at once,
By any means dead. 'Officer,' they said, 'he's dead.
He ought to be, at any rate if he's human.'
And in the end they were right, dead right.
An hour later, by the tangled bike
(Considered by the crowd by no means done for)
They were still standing, very much alive -
As they ought to be, at any rate if they're human.


Alice, My Servant in Jamaica
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