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Luke Kennard

The Boiler

    for Martin Stannard on his birthday

We spent so long repairing the boiler
in the wild sun; thrashing it with willow branches,
knocking it with our spanners, raising clouds;
had we not earned a four-martini-afternoon

in a hotel whose theme was oranges? Chairs
shaped like an orange with a quarter-wedge
cut out, orange crate staircases,
orange light shades, and so on. Someone

around here sure must love oranges
and I’ll wager it’s the proprietor
or the owner of the syndicate: for once
there was one Oranges Hotel called The

Oranges Hotel, but soon there were four
in very different areas of the city and now,
as far as I know, there is at least one in every
town worth its civic centre. But why

did the two-seater aeroplane need a boiler?
It needed an engine, I said, mouth half full
of smoked almonds from a crystal bowl,
but not a boiler, and we were – how to put it? –

how to put it delicately for you were unpredictable
and I never knew what might break the mood
irreparably? – we were investigating a detective,
we were of the Gileadites, we were taking

a kid’s marbles but we were the kid and we were
       the marbles.
We’d live in the plane, the static plane, you said,
blotting a little ice cube on the knee of your dress,
it was never meant to fly, we were never meant

to get out of here, to fuck it off forever and write
something valedictory and obscene in the sky
everyone we’d abandoned would be too slow-witted
to even be very insulted by – they’d move

onto the next scandal soon enough and we’d land
once again, somewhere else, somewhere
with an Oranges Hotel, with a busted boiler, with you
trying to compliment the cake I’d made on the radiator,

with lust our only bellwether – and did you know
that meant the leading sheep of the flock? – with lust
our only northern lights with lust our only
solemn duty? Now get the bill – I don’t believe they

give the tips to the employees, it’s what I heard,
so I will leave it up to you whether you tip
ten, fifteen or twenty percent or not at all,
then take me to our very garish room.

Copyright © Luke Kennard, 2022


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