Archive for November, 2010

UNDER NOVEMBER SKIES

The rain has stopped. We can hear only the wind

and a swollen stream – hidden beneath

the high moor’s golden fern – rush through a culvert

under the road, which glistens, after the shower,

in an unexpected shaft of sunlight.

Rain clouds are blackening the mountains

to the west but northwards, beyond bracken

and gorse that stretches seemingly to land’s edge,

through a gap in the hills, we can see the sea,

a sunny blue, and a white ship sailing east –

too far away to recognise her flags.

Chance has brought us here as winter comes. Love

stays us against the dark.

 

Note: this piece has been subsequently published in ‘A Jar of Sticklebacks’ – http://www.armadillocentral.com/general/a-jar-of-sticklebacks-by-david-selzer.

 

 

 

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A NEIGHBOURHOOD OF STRANGERS

Buzzards splayed their wingtips against the sun.

A Phantom entered the glacial valley,

its fuselage burning – the pilot

and crewman still at the controls, their choice made.

In school, it was story time – magical

oak woods, changelings secreted. The children

heard a rushing like oceans. Their teacher

saw the fire approach and two young men,

with a hundred years of technology,

burst upon the huddled village’s

common land… Children dreamt of foreign men

gone to dust in a golden fire for a

neighbourhood of strangers.

 

 

 

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PRO PATRIA MORI

As fire storms travel, we are twenty miles

from the marshalling yards at Crewe, some twelve

and a half from a tracking station near

Wardle, sixish from British Nuclear

Fuels at Capenhurst and slightly more than

four from an unspecified RAF

electronic complex in Sealand – which

all must have their numbers on at least

one ICBM in a silo

east of the Urals and/or west of

the Appalachians.  And so, though there may be

nuclear winter in Hoole, we shall not

see it in our lifetime.

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‘A WINDY DAY’ & ‘A CALM MORNING’

 

A WINDY DAY, J.M.W.TURNER Tabley, the seat of Sir J.F. Leicester

They bought up land, made marriages, dispossessed

tenants and built their fortune on rents.

These commissions mark their zenith. Since then,

the estate has been sold off acre by

acre, piece by piece – one Turner remains,

the other hangs in another museum.

Some things are unchanged: in the distance,

the house’s palladian exterior

in local sandstone, the round turreted

folly on the small island in the lake – an ancient

Cheshire mere. Gone are the fishing boats

tacking on the choppy water or anchored

in the pink stillness just after dawn.

Whatever fishes thrive are largely

unmolested and aircraft rise from Ringway

five miles or so to the north. But England

continues – consuming, class ridden.

A CALM MORNING, J.M.W.TURNER

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IN THE COMPASS OF A PALE

With branch, stalk, thorns, by a dry summer’s

overgrowth obscured, in one unkempt border,

a rose – traditional, heart red – bloomed.

Over tall weeds and grasses, tangled, brittle,

I leant to pluck it, found it blown, blooded,

a bouquet of wormy petals – left it

blighted, inviolate. Where the black gate

hinged to the wall banking our garden,

coffin-sized, skeletal leaves gathered,

whispering, stones, stones. Come winter, frost fissured

bricks and luxurious, pitchy earth sprinkled.

In spring, grasses sprouted in the crevice;

fleshy leaves hissed, breath, breath.

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