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The hardback quarto exercise book opens
at ‘Funny Valentine’, an unfinished,
blank verse piece – full of Auden, Larkin, Yeats –
in thick-nib fountain pen on feint ruled lines.
Four decades old and more – and pristine:
‘Today, at best, brings scented, satin hearts,
Numb messengers of somebody’s desires…’

I can see the back room in the shared flat:
sagging bed, faded armchair, torn carpet,
wobbly table; I’d brought a large ashtray,
a glass fronted bookcase and a small, handmade
Chinese cabinet; a tv blared upstairs.
Through the sash window stuck fast with paint
was the littered garden – out of sight and
sound, all of Liverpool, swinging city.

I google Lorenz Hart’s lyrics – ‘Your looks
are laughable, unphotographable,
Yet you’re my favorite work of art’- and hear
Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald.
The cabinet – carved drawers filled now with years
of love – was a woman’s gift to a man
coming of age. But I was a boy, full
of fears and words. ‘Stay little valentine, stay…’
Borne on the leafy fretwork of the doors,
two gilded, lacquered kingfishers in flight,
sun catching on their iridescent wings,
fall together into oblivion.


Note: this piece has been subsequently published in ‘A Jar of Sticklebacks’ –







© Copyright David Selzer
1 Response
  • Sarah S
    September 2, 2009

    So much more fulfilling than wasting precious moments on facebook…. my regular relaxation will now be clicking on tagged words on! Today, ‘Ella Fitzgerald’.

    And what a surprise! I can hear the sounds of Liverpool, smell the grand old city struggling to hang onto its faded glory, with only a hint of its fame to come (and more faded glory as time moves on….). Wonderful.

    Dilemma – to click on ‘Hegel’ or ‘chocolate next’?!

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