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I started this poem fifty years ago

yesterday – the day JFK was

assassinated. Untypically,

I cannot remember where I was

when I first heard the news. Wherever,

subsequently I tried out lines in my head

as I walked Liverpool’s windy streets.

Not a word of that first attempt survives.

Maybe I have become more skilled or, perhaps,

time has informed both content and style –

or, simply, made the past tractable.


On reflection, his murder was a very

modern, democratic even Tinsel Town

affair – dysfunctional shelf stacker

slays serially adulterous,

medicinal dependent president,

whose brains are captured on camera

leaving his shattered skull;

the assassin is shot – also on

camera – by a night club owner, dying

of cancer, in hock to the Cosa Nostra,

and who did it for ‘Jackie’, who returns

to Washington in her splattered pink suit

to ‘show them what they have done.’ Her pronouns

were significant, enigmatic,

accidental. Would he have been great?

Think Cuba, Nam, the Moon…




© Copyright David Selzer
2 Responses
  • Caroline Reeves
    November 28, 2013

    David, I have just read the JFK poem. It’s amazing to think how differently JFK would have been treated now when all the lies, bribing and bullying of the whole family would have been in the public domain. I designed a book on JFK in 1992. It was wonderful to work with the amazing quality of the archive black and white prints, in the days when photographic paper was full of silver!!

  • Steve Crewe
    December 2, 2013

    Unlike you David, yet like so many others, I can remember exactly where I was (Wimpey’s Coffee Bar in Chester) and who told me the news (Lesley Grant). It was with disbelief that I heard the news of man’s inhumanity to man, which was to be thrice revisited on a personal level with three friends being murdered in diverse places around the globe. Then of course came 9/11!

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