A new poem

Holding her wrist serenely as a surgeon, he snips
her hospital bands free, never shaking the blades.
When she retches, too contorted to sip,
he smoothes her brittle strands into a braid
with no bulges – a cool, constant plait.
He defends her to her doctors, tracks down
articles about new treatments, always waits.
His lips pull into straight lines, but never frown.
When the devil appears, fondling a crooked tail,
he’ll stride forth on his pilgrimage through hell.
Afterwards, bending to wipe his boots, he won’t tell.
Others will whisper, admire, turn green or slightly pale
at his voice, which never dwindles to a lie,
and eyes that calmly watched a woman die.

An autumn note

“For many, the end of this uneasy year cannot come quickly enough”

An ordinary killing

Ian Cobain’s book uses the killing of Millar McAllister to paint a meticulous portrait of the Troubles

Greater—not wiser

John Mullan elucidates the genius of Charles Dickens