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C.3.3 becomes Sebastian Melmoth ~ a poem from Gill Learner

C.3.3 becomes Sebastian Melmoth
Voilà où mènent les mauvais chemins
~ Oscar Wilde after Balzac

Red grit of Reading has been sluiced away,
coarse garments burned. Slight tremors
in the hands will soon be calmed by foreign air.

The channel isn’t angry but surly,
cradling the boat from wave to wave
enough to stir up coffee, marmalade and toast.

On deck, where seagulls circle and complain,
he witnesses the pallid chalk sink low,
watches for the distant smudge of France.

Breakfast calmed, he goes below again,
folds his coat to pad the wooden seat, lights
a cigarette. Eyes closed, he slides

towards unconsciousness. He semi-dreams:
not yet the ballad of a wretched life, but smooth
young limbs, filet de boeuf, champagne.

Gill Learner has been published widely and won a few prizes. The Agister’s Experiment (2011) and Chill Factor (2016) are from Two Rivers Press, with Change due in 2021. More at

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