The Folly: sixth arc





Danger rises. The spirit seekers, self-possessed (this always preferable) when dealing with the dead, are rattled by the assassin Falco. Those who hired him have failed to estimate him to his own valuation. And Falco, veteran of WWI’s atrocities, knows it, that he cannot alter this — that what the living are meant to have is dead within him, though among the living he walks. He will, by stacking bodies, make the great men who begin wars hear him. So he intends.
Our heroes hope for a different outcome.





Who Owns This House
Castello dei Banditti
Until the Last’s Returning
The Epistles
Llewellyn at Home
Mince No Words
A Body Surfaces
And the Other
Silent As the Grave
A Failure of Intelligence
Dark Humour





Battle Stations



A handful of possible

A handful of…reasonable

A handful…well…

Of fair, say…

Ways you could explain

Had done for the Newtons

Baffled round the dire smell, hinting, not insisting…

Possible, reasonable, fair…why, then, likelihood?

(But just perhaps…and coming down to it…) a sort of cotton-wool

Like if it was in a poem, it might be

Said…neither mister nor missus ever been

But cautious-minded folk, quiet-living…married very young

At war’s end, Adamson, buying up property went

And left her Lem his man-in-charge

Nell Newton to herself don’t mind

The saying of a plain thing…Lem’s uncle is an awful tartar

Lem’s uncle goes and puts the rents up

Says it’s hard times, says let them try

They bloody well won’t, doing better


But they might…

Just this past spring, and just to show…

If Adamson, beside himself, should force the door

(…show no want of willingness to do a Newton’s part)

There was, across the way, that suicide

And wasn’t it Lem ran to fetch the corner bobby?

The sight of it, on the flocking, on the damask…

And wasn’t it Nell sat with old Mrs. Combles…?


And wasn’t it Adamson himself

Said, a month ago, ‘See to those mousetraps, Nelly! What a fug!

Tell me you can’t keep a lodger in that room upstairs…!’


She’d felt giddy, mice

Mice, Lem, she’d said to him, suppose it only is?

Later, they’d allowed it might be sausage

And sauerkraut and such…who knew?

With them foreign types?

Yes…there’d been another trouble

Krug’s window could be seen to crawl with flies





Battle Stations

 Who Owns This House


This room, its walls are painted yellow

They call it that, the Yellow Room

The corner cabinet…no plane of it

Quite fits, the hinges pull

My dear, you smile, but I feel the cabinet matters

And he will not have sold it

It wishes to remain


Who owns this house?

I think he is aged thirty, hardly more

He has come to a place in the mountains, flat, flat to despair

Rough stones, as bad for cattle as for the plough

And spare infertile earth

Poor, never visitors enough

To sell to

But his own home is poor


If he sleeps…his name must be Devon or Desmond…

In the room downstairs

He finds he can sleep

But the closet…

The privy, yes…Americans say so

He dreads to visit in the night


No night has been spent in the Yellow Room

Unused but in a time of typhus

One, and then another, three

Carried to the bedstead, borne away

A wasted hand flings free

To limpet on, with panicked strength

Still to the ill-at-ease attendant

Plucking and prying and making rearwards

These words, this pleading, a fevered vision


But the mourning, mourning face

Do I wait for you

Do you wait for me

The invalid hears and straining from the pillow sees

A figure white-clad coffined below the glass

Do I wait for you, O Love, O Death

Do you wait for me





Oil painting of city-scape

Castello dei Banditi


Companions among Toscana’s dead

Dead of centuries whose tombs

Are plundered of their gold, but of their masonry

too, sledged by quarriers shaping chamber walls

Cornerstones re-founding Christian halls

Those seats of state where patriarchs and queens

Departed granted favour yet, or sought-for pardon

Mothers, fathers, benign to sorrowing offspring

Voices raised whose hailings, to the Contessa di Barucchi

Come in a brightening her eyes have been bequeathed

the gift to see

She can, she has, seen yellow walls in black and white

She puts aside the photograph

‘That,’ her visitor says, ‘is quite astonishing, Desmond, I mean…

‘Fellow’s name. Spot on.’

She ignores this hesitant apologetic tone

‘Because I take an interest in your young man, I forgive you’

‘Forgive…what have I done?’ Suddenly ill at ease

She has sussed him out, or her spirits have

Well…why suppose? Rather, why doubt

This legendary woman

Has close and potent counsel of strong energies

Figures of storied courts from times predating Rome

‘And so…I shall write and say, to our client—’

‘You will take my dictation, write to him what I tell you.’

Austere. She forgives but she does not…and that of course

is because he continues lying. Truly, he can’t say why…


‘Signora Contessa, I’ve toyed with these mysteries. I confess I have

not properly credited, revered…yes, revered, I think I ought to say, the…

the antiquity. The Folly is not so holy a place as the Castello dei Banditi.

I come, they have told you, your companions,

or you suspect as much, to beg a refuge for…perhaps

For a newly banished one. Or two…

Two, I should say, though I don’t know what Fiona will do.’





Pencil drawing of man waiting for boat on quay

Until the Last’s Returning


He waits along the quay, mood agity, wandered well away

From sheltered benches where a better class

Than Dougal counts himself…city sorts, on holiday

Able to have loose ends and weekends to their lives

Booked today not forever, but for the harbour tour

Bide their shaded skin below the awning until the last’s returning


Evil is on his mind, an utter oddity

And yet he is willing to allow philosophy

Of every stripe and taste, few things more expanding to the mind

Than being jilted by a ghost

And it’s true, isn’t it?

Fiona…? He would like to ask

Wennie seems well, an ordinary lad

‘Your father, son, and your mother…’

Dougal crouching, blinking, too late stricken by the thought

He has never given such a speech

‘Oh, Dad. He’s dead, I know. But Mother…’

The child pats the mustard seed pendant

The only thing Fiona has so far managed, the bestowing of it

‘Well, aye, you must think of her that way, as being with you always’


Fiona, do we think of it, somewhere, in agonies

This minute I step round, and make back towards you

A footfall’s lapse, and someone perishes

This minute I check my watch

And tell myself, she’s fine, she’s safe

The boy is fine, he’s safe

Conflagrations and quakes are at this minute taking place

Ligurian waters lap, they wink and nod

The killer Falco hasn’t cause to hunt abroad

Only our friends at home

Are stalked





Oil painting of harbor scene

The Epistles


The Contessa writes to the chapters of the Fellowship

Prophecies her companions unveil in a language familiar

To followers of readings and summonings, to seekers

Who divine a card’s turning, hear the undercurrent’s drumming

Malice and menace…she hopes that her warnings are timely

For the Clock cycles ever, and each sound uttered

By human voice, each juddering of continents

When tides and magmas rise, each engine of wind that shrieks

Into cyclones of fire consuming war-torn cities

Floats on its ethereal wave, a repeating chime, until some raft

Of outsized matter impedes the way, and a thousand thousand

Souls’ cries are to the attuned made audible

She transcribes them

Her eyes see, as she spins her globe, and her book of maps she pages

the celluloid sheen yellow over, like a lamp superheating its shade


My friends of Seattle

Your numbers are seven and nine, be concerned for falling accidents

Green and gold the colours that correspond, hidden decay your enemy

Your unlucky sign is the pyramid


My friends of Marseille

To Etruria was known your ancient name

Your numbers are 5 and 4, be concerned for clay

Aqua and orange the colours that correspond, heavy rains your enemy

Your unlucky sign is the egg


My friends of Catania

Your numbers are three and one, be concerned for the knife

Pink and bone are the colours that correspond, pride your enemy

Your unlucky sign is the falling star


My friends of Somerset

The blood of sacrifice yet stains your earth

Old things dwell there

Your numbers are two and two, be concerned for the falcon

The blue of indigo, and indigo again, are the colours that correspond

Persuasion your enemy

Your unlucky sign is the axe head





Digital painting of ballerina

Llewellyn at Home


Colonel Llewellyn keeps visitors to Chequerstone, his private home

In refrigeration, in an odd three-cornered chamber, the host in surmise…

(today, however, he is guest, and arguably self-invited)

But, for troubling a busy man, thus to take what he gets—

He has time. Ages of things, their adaptations, his avocation

Landscapes change…why suppose

The first to raise what might have been a hut…more burrow

roofed in turfen shingles, would keep stock

Ancient marshlands be employed at all, for pasturing, and…

(inconsequential thought) there is a rumour of mock-sheep

fleeces wrapped on armatures, dotted on hillsides

(foxholes under, men with glasses staring out to sea…)

But this cold little room, with its fog-coloured light

Ingeniously linking a closed open porch, to the Tudor front

The repressive ugliness of utility, bouts of wealth and continuity

Speak rootedly, in truculence. The dead here are pleased to remain

And not liking Llewellyn…not having met him, but—

Instinct’s counsel counts for much. The host smiles, taking care…

as though the Meissen ballerina

on the mantelpiece had charmed his eye

…to rise and cross to her contemplation

He smiles again, casts ethereal communication

outbound, in the style of an estate agent, directions

from the Folly to Chequerstone

‘…eminently suitable to your needs…’

Honeymooners cottage, it may be

Says Llewellyn, ‘Just behind you is a shelf of books.

It always entertains me, the way that visitors will mooch about

gazing through windows or fingering one’s bric-à-brac,

but are reluctant to seize upon a thing to read.’

‘How do you do, sir,’ the host says, replacing the figurine





Mince No Words


Business is to be got to…Trout, though he’d offered pretext

Possesses so little of personal quality

While a monocled eye, unsuffering of fools, peers so expectant

The host shrugs away his first, introductory amblings

Though ahead he forages as much as forges…

‘You know, of course, that we are a Spiritualist circle

at the Folly, that Mrs. Tattersby…ahem…however’

It had looked to him as though Llewellyn thought to speak

‘Mrs. Tattersby, I say, is curiously a connexion of Atherleigh

She has gone abroad…’

A silence

‘Follow me to my library.’

An upstairs room well-heated, a view of the sea

Two armchairs in conversation placed to catch salt draughts

from the balcony. ‘Now we’ll mince no words,’ the colonel says

‘You mention Atherleigh. For a reason. I’ll have it.’

Curiously, the host rebukes himself

The very spot I put the fatal foot

No help. Truth the recommended thing, and none to tell

Falco’s name delivered them from the dead man Krug.

‘I should waste your time making pretence—

Llewellyn’s eye says, late for that

‘Fiona is a private woman, but these events

Are…were…have been, rather spectacular…

She finds the boy Leslie given into her care

I believe, in fact, they call him Wennie…from his second name…’

‘They may call him as they like, no doubt. Hardly to do with me.

Sir, you have said nothing to the point.

I suspect you are less the simpleton than you make out.’

Why yes. Why no. Never mind.

The point is a gamble, a desperate toss

Or not. Dare it…dare it…

What will they do, clap you in the stocks?

‘I don’t know the fellow’s Christian name…’





Charcoal and pastel drawing of man wearing bowler and looking consternated

A Body Surfaces


Adamson discovers that a lifetime of choler

Well-trodden ways from whiffs of cheek and bother

To the full-blown stack of outrage

Sackings, threats of action

Can’t well prepare one for enormity akin

To a magazine’s explosion

‘No one at home! No one at home!

How can you mean it?’

Mrs. Combles follows, grumbling

Try doing a good turn…

Of course she doesn’t mean it, if the facts of the case

Are to be laid at her blameless door

What use to say they’ve scarpered, Lem and Nell

That done, the only lodger done the same

As always sitting days in her front parlour

She sees things

She no longer has a mind to tell


Adamson climbs the stairs, and the smell

Of neglected duty churns his stomach less

Unknown to him, or in all the world unsuspected…

Best way of putting it, is Lem’s by ladder

Prying of the window up and fixing it, wide

Near crossing his eyes to keep from seeing in

Krug, where for these weeks he’s been, lies airing

Another moment though, when amazed it should be so

Adamson turns the knob, finding the room unlocked

A blackened face with matter in its sockets

Seems to convey (in dream or echo)

that least expected

Thank you





Pastel drawing of culvert with body

And the Other


A cyclist, and the lady whom

with the long game of a fellow christened Miles

He woos, though steadfast in pretence

Of interest, mutual, in a European kite

Thought, most rarely, according to the guides

To have blown across the Channel

On prevailing winds

(And those they manufacture over there, in this year of 1934

suggest a bird uprisen on a popular tide

feathered in dark threat, with a savagery of talon)

Again they pass the culvert and again their ease

Of conversation on themes reliable for mixing passion

with a comforting lack of awakening, romantic

Falters, fades, and dies

‘There is that,’ says Maura, to her hobbyist chum

The bundle, the two climbing down, impelled by urge

Still all unwilling, to touch, or draw the cover clear…

Has shrunk. Through a summer and now an autumn’s week

the shape by inches has unfleshed itself, if one dared so

To speak…

Almost the bundle has acquired a skeletal shape

Miles and Maura, much like Lem and Nell

fear they’ve left a duty unperformed

Awkward, if it were some bright-eyed boater

Had noted this become-routine behaviour



They find themselves splashed up to

by an angler. As it happens, he is Sir Rory Tebbs,

local magistrate. He squints and ducks his head

in curious fashion, and heartily he says:

‘Your young eyes, no doubt, can make it out

if that…object…is only rubbish…

I’d passed it by a time or two, I do confess.’

‘Why,’ Miles observes, ‘Miss Williams and I

being so caught up with our birds…

I must admit, myself, I’d scarcely noticed…that.

Do you suppose, sir, it would do,

for one of us to take a look…?’





Digital photo-art of watery figures

Silent As the Grave


Llewellyn affords to himself some feeling of offence

Brought on by the pressures of exigency, his given consent

And of necessity, in the person of Mission Director

a title found in files, coded by initials MD

buried in the secretest of offices under the blandest street

of Whitehall

these, by this, bomb-proofed, but in event of disaster, TBB

Never, any of it, amongst associates spoken aloud

At sunset, at the Brigands’ Rock

Which boasts a hollow near the top

Said to fit the boots of Captain Jack

A Bristol pirate and highwayman

(and not the many others of that name)

The colleagues meet

The vantage is indeed supreme

No traveller along the road can pass unseen

This whole affair of Atherleigh

has left the few who know the truth


They watch the Germans carefully

Their chap, who’d winkled all the story

of Agnes, had befriended Krug…just enough

For a chat each day, stopping after his Zeitung

‘Cove’s really nothing. They don’t know either where the woman

has gone. And that little item Atherleigh was meant to pass on…’

A pffft, expressed with hand and lips…

‘Krug’ (chuckle) ‘has himself so much anxiety, poor lad.

He’ll be recalled. It can’t be helped.’

Your full-assimilated London Kraut, no doubt

is worst, and another, now, they’ll have to run to earth

All this speaks not to the confounding, blasphemous cheek

with which Llewellyn must endure





Pastel and pencil drawing of man's face with rueful smile

A Failure of Intelligence


You’re new

We have gone wrong in this affair, and it is not entirely

a fault of inexperience, however

it does appear you’ve tipped into error. I should like

to call attention to this failing

An operative must cultivate his own informants

He is expected to. He will have types of things…

You will. That you wish to know about the subject.

You are in charge and are the meter of reward

No, I don’t mean the measure

I mean it’s you pays out…or doesn’t, you know.

As to certain foibles you are trained to keep a weather eye

The deadly sins

pride, greed, envy

no joke in our sort of business

yet readily you slide into the trap

Your man begins to order you about

You meet him in the usual way, but you forget

He mentions ‘something good’ just come upon

your career feels in the doldrums, nothing’s on

Or hell on every other front is breaking loose

while your own stand sits empty of custom

easy to fear you’ll be withdrawn and sent

to the north of Scotland


‘If I may…’

The colonel greets interruption…rather not interruption,

as he’d fallen silent—but what he’d very much like to call

Insubordination. With a silence frostier, prolonged

towards encouraging self-reflection, which he doubts will come

They are all Oxford chaps in this new branch

No army private would have dared

To speak of all words, those three

In answer to a superior officer





Pastel and pencil drawing of 1930s bedroom

Dark Humour


But, if I may, the chap…who calls himself Peters

(He notes Llewellyn find in this no subtle Hunnish wit.

Peters in manner terribly Hansel, a-dropping of his breadcrumbs…

Another glance…no. The new man has been guilty of imitating Peters

at his club. He knows very well what is not done. He fears very much

Llewellyn has cottoned on…)

‘Truly. A fairly harmless case

of self-importance. He has left England because he can.

No, sir…I have thought to trace his movements.’

‘Worked at it, have you?’


‘Let the matter occupy your time?’


The police had got in first, mostly keeping crowds off

Foul play, under some object of uniform…

…breadth…and one must well suppose, weight…

Ribs crushed to suffocation…

Falco, a man who signs his work in this way

Krug having acquired an attachment to the linens

part-mummified (‘not going anywhere’—not so funny now, is it?)

Not an exit left unguarded

Upper windows, though

This of course what the Germans who had done it

(By what means? By what means?)

Aimed at. To make clowns of Scotland Yard.

Why the stains and bits of Krug

The ankle and the foot of Krug

Were placed to suggest a corpse could rise

Make judgments of its own, elude the force

Make off, before the mortuary van arrived

At the cost of an arm (below the elbow)

Used to smash the window glass





Charcoal and pastel drawing of man in aviator's helmetSee Folly page for full series
Allied Forces















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