LOST TRIBES

Catching the last train on any Sunday night,

when I was a student, before The Troubles,

they would be there. I would notice them

in noisy farewells clustered near the bar:

the men, red faced, shouting companionably

with the drink, the women calming kids –

the cardboard suitcases, the carrier bags.

 

Changing at Crewe, there would be more of them

to join us for the early Irish Mail –

refreshment bars and ill-lit platforms full

of bothered,

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ANOTHER SEPTEMBER

The groundsman was already burning leaves.

 

Each working day, I was paid to lead

other people’s children through the labyrinth

of language – received, standard. (For some,

it was the wrong one – language or labyrinth.

They had their own minotaurs at home,

on the streets). And each day, I would drive back

to smiles and books and weathered bricks and luck.

 

Watching the smoke drift, I was surprised

to be still there, trying to unload

the dice from some sense of duty –

and something not a little like love.

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ACCIDENTS

A sudden heavy shower of summer rain

slows the early evening motorway

to a blood red blur of brake lights.

In my mirror, I see two cars collide,

career across the lanes – and others stop,

receding out of sight into the downpour…

 

I am thirteen and a half and tall for my age –

the year of Hungary and Suez;

am sitting on the red leather back seat

of an almost straight-from-the-showroom

Morris Minor (in the inexorable green),

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THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS

The left, centre and right panels of the tryptch, ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’, by Hieronymous Bosch circa 1510

 

Paradise flocks. Christ is blessing Adam, Eve

and, looking our way, us. We know, we

know – but a dirty trick to make evil

interesting! Lords and ladies teem: nude

armies on sensual manoeuvres.

In the nightmare, penis becomes knife, vulva

a cracked, open egg on tree-like legs –

and a man, elbow on the cut-away edge,

is unmoved.

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CECIL AND PRECIOUS

RHODES MEMORIAL

Rhodes Memorial, Cape Town. © Sylvia Selzer 2009

 

‘Equal rights for all civilized men south of the Zambesi!’ Cecil Rhodes

 

I

 

Apparently, he loved the view from this spot –

the north east slopes of Table Mountain – indeed,

owned much of the foreground. The sycophants

of Cape Town built, with granite quarried

from the mountain itself, this monument –

with Doric columns and arcades (which he

so revered, apparently),

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