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John Muckle

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Two men are fruitlessly waiting for the arrival of another.
After a time one of them decides to hang himself.
Just one of many stories you decided not to write, Nathaniel
Hawthorne, lover of foreign travel, where romance grows out of a ruin
and the face of the man who hides himself from question
is that of a murderer whose vanity eats the lives of others
who hires a handmaiden of death to do the honours.

Nathaniel Hawthorne is silent at the table of honour
where he has just met Herman Melville, whom he admires.
They had corresponded about the tyranny of the democratic public.
There is little to say, apparently. Both sit sipping claret
at the end of a great struggle to end up in the middle of nowhere.
The two cleverest monkeys in the United States of America.
The authors of Moby Dick and the Scarlet Letter.

Nothing is going on in this story except the waiting.
Nothing is happening except the deferment of your pleasure.
Nothing is going to be revealed about the meaning of myth.
Nothing is implied by a comparison of matches.
Nothing is journeying in the end to meet its shoemaker.
Nothing is slipping and sliding, rolling and tumbling.
Nothing is certain. Nothing is going to curb America.

Photo of John MuckleJohn Muckle was born in Kingston-upon-Thames in 1954. He has worked as an editor, copywriter, lecturer, careworker, sheep wrangler, bookshop assistant and supply teacher. His previous publications include The Cresta Run (Galloping Dog Press, 1987), Cyclomotors (Festival Books, 1997) and Firewriting (Shearsman Gallery, 2003). He initiated the Paladin Poetry list in the 1980s, was general editor of The New British Poetry (Paladin, 1988). He is currently living in London.

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