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Fanny Adams' grave, Alton cemetery, Hampshire

Fanny Adams' grave, Alton cemetery, Hampshire


After the fluorescent shops and the snatched music,

the side street was damp and dark –

but a bag of chips and a manipulative adult

made the emptiness freedom.


Waterways were trawled and the usual,

time-dishonoured suspects questioned.

Down river, high tides returned her nine year old body.


The funeral cortège was a carriage and horses

and the local press was effulgent.

But gossip condemned her single mother,

living in a hostel on benefit.


The killer lived two floors down,

an estranged father of daughters –

a violent drunk, unemployed, unschooled.


Victim, mother and murderer

threaten the equivocal city.

Losers and losing

challenge its achievements.


Death is only one result of murder.

Remember sweet Fanny Adams – mutilated,

immortalised, profaned  unthinkingly!


The murder and rape of children

seem beyond words, understanding,  iniquity

– and another’s lack of love or the  means to love

is out of our  grasp, lost beyond finding.




© Copyright David Selzer
2 Responses
  • John H
    June 24, 2009

    Can I commend LOST, with its combination of past and present murders, victims and perpetrators? Anywhere you start this is a great poem – but the beginning is a chilling combination of innocent details and menace, which must be returned to when you’ve finished the whole.

  • Gil Franke
    June 27, 2014

    A tragic tale, told in stark and brutal simplicity; a too common plot revealed in staccato images; a dramatic poem requiring reflection and attention. Thanks for re-posting!

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