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Above every Mairie flaps the Tricolour.

On every lawn, in every yard through the gut

of America – where the Great Plains began

before the farmers came with wheat and pigs

and soya fields – Old Glory flutters.

Above the reception desk in every

riad in Morocco the king’s photo hangs.

Here, things are never that unambiguous.


In a street near the foot of the Downs,

too steep for tables, they have strung bunting

from house to house, moved cars, hired a leaning

bouncy castle and shared barbecues.


This chalk, grassland common – that slopes upwards

to the flint ridge with its Pilgrim’s Way,

from Winchester to Canterbury,

for a Norman priest killed by Norman lords –

is a (mostly) English floral lexicon:

Meadow Cranesbane, Meadow Vetchling, Yellow-rattle,

Dove’s Foot Cranesbill,  Common Spotted Orchid.


A Skylark ascends from the unmown grasses.

I think of Vaughan Williams’ orchestral piece,

with its shimmering solo violin,

the George Meredith poem which inspired it –

‘He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound,
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake’ –

Celts evoking the essence of what was theirs.


The party dwindles as the drizzle arrives.

To be English is to be contrarian –

not being Irish, Scots, Welsh or ‘foreign’.

At the top of the street, a patriot with

a large, St George’s Cross drooping above

the privet hedge, has lit a bonfire

in a garden incinerator.  The rain,

now heavy, drums on the lid and, though sodden –

being dressed in England football strip –

he forces wet, tabloid newspapers down

the narrow funnel. Acrid smoke wafts up.




© Copyright David Selzer

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