Poem from Andrew Motion’s Laurels and Donkeys

Laurels and Donkeys

Andrew released a chapbook with the indomitable Clutag Press last year to coincide with Armistice Day. It’s now sold out, but do check out their other mighty holdings. This poem will be included in Andrew’s next full collection, due from Faber at the end of next year.


General Petraeus, when the death-count of American troops
in Iraq was close to 3,800, said ‘The truth is you never do get
used to losses. There is a kind of bad news vessel with holes,

and sometimes it drains, then it fills up, then it empties again’,
leaving in this particular case the residue of a long story
involving one soldier who, in the course of his street-patrol,

tweaked the antenna on the TV in a bar hoping for baseball,
but found instead the snowy picture of men in a circle talking,
all apparently angry and perhaps Jihadists. They turned out to be

reciting poetry. ‘My life’, said the interpreter, ‘is like a bag of flour
thrown through wind and into thorn bushes.’ Then ‘No, no’, he said,
correcting himself. ‘Like dust in the wind. Like a hopeless man.’

More on Andrew here

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