The International Literary Quarterly

November 2008


Gillian Beer
Amit Chaudhuri
Jonathan Dunne
Tsvetanka Elenkova
Ernest Farrés
Paul Giles
Mina Gorji
Geoffrey Hartman
Christopher Lane
Andrew Motion
Wendy O' Shea-Meddour
Tanyo Ravicz
Lawrence Venuti
Stanley Wells
Augustus Young

Founding Editor: Peter Robertson
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Consulting Editor: Marjorie Agosín
Consulting Editor: Jill Dawson
Consulting Editor: Denise Duhamel
Consulting Editor: Beatriz Hausner
Consulting Editor: Mimi Khalvati
Consulting Editor: Suzanne Jill Levine
Consulting Editor: Margot Livesey
Associate Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
Assistant Editor:
Jeff Barry
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Issue 5 Guest Artist: Tom Phillips

Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture. From Elegies and Celebrations by Augustus Young  
A selection from The Town of the Forked River (poems from Bras de Venus, France, 2004 – 2008)


The Albesia in Season

When my flowering tree comes into its own
the birds sing in it for a day and a night.
O folie bergère of pink and white blossom,
fluffy boa feathers. Honey is their delight.

Mountain swallows. No one sees them alight.
Little pecking birds that drink to clear their throats,
carousing the air with many-coloured notes.
When the source has been sucked dry, the birds take flight
and the blossoms begin to fall. A dead cat bloats  
with maggots under the tree. Three days ago
it slept in the grass, a pile of old coats.
It must have crawled there to die. Marco Polo

brought the corm of an albesia back home.
A gift to Venice from his friend Kubla Khan.
But in the marshlands the plant could not be grown.
So it put down its roots in North Catalan,

where the green fronded branches have the wingspan,
and the trunk the torsion, with its knotted grain,
to bend, and not to break, in the tramontane
(ants feed off the bark in this arid terrain).

The ideal wood for carving beasts and birds.
Flea markets in the Far East are aflood with them.
The gift of the albesia had been offered
by Kubla Khan to fashion royal coffins.

But no Venetian doge would be buried in less
than a sacrophage of flesh-absorbing limestone.
Wood was only what burnt peasants to ashes.
A dead-loss, thought Marco Polo, who’d have known

in Kubla Khan’s Cambaluc, a princess
was dug up after two thousand years, flesh and bone
perfectly preserved in a wooden compress.
Maybe the albesia will be my own.