literary

Beach Reading

Essential to any beach trip this summer
is Mouna Lellouche’s Obsidian Nights,
an exploration of the self and modernity,

and best consumed in its original Berber,
of course. She’s been gone a year now.
There’s no book that shouts ‘READ ME!’

louder than the waves which crash
upon the rocks than John Phillipston’s
fine new exploration of equine prostitution

in early modern theatre, ‘Tis Pity
She’s a Horse’
. I woke one morning
and she’d just cleared out. And, finally,

any time spent relaxing underneath that –
no note, nothing – Mediterranean sun
would be incomplete without the latest –

she’d only taken the little suitcase –
Oriana Malmoud, whose new book,
The Insubstantiality of Things, is a sustained critique

of consumer culture – pizza again tonight –
which, she argues, can only be combated
by a new set of moral imperatives.

Alone Together

Alone together, for once,
I told her how I thought that –
in my unbiased opinion –
the incidence of oxymorons
in the English language
had been growing smaller.
That’s old news, she said,
adding that it had been the case
for almost exactly ten years.
Things got pretty ugly.
But this, in itself,
felt strangely normal;
for ours was
a bittersweet relationship,
a civil war
of violent agreements.
I found myself annoyingly
endeared to her
whilst she thought
my puritanical streak
seriously funny.
Our contradictions
complemented each other
perfectly.
Same difference,
I whispered loudly,
but she, with a sad smile,
after telling me how
I’d left her speechless,
went back to reading
her textbook
on business ethics.