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CIVIL WARS

After the horsemen and the slaves, before
the Stalins and the Hitlers, were the skilful
cities – cosmopolitan, pragmatic,
loud and solemn with towers, spires, domes.

There are some who would reprise a fictive past,
revert from countries of convenience
to imaginary nations, ignore
the corrupting legacy of empire,
the corrupted remittance of colonies,
oil trumping Crusades and martyrdom.

Europe could break like a slate across old
fault lines – a slate smudged with alphabets.
Europe could rub out its history.

There are swastikas in Brick Lane and Berlin,
lampooning in Paris and Soho.
When liberty is assassinated,
freedom is curbed by the rationale
of abhorrence, the politics of outrage –
Jews, Christians, Muslims, the conflicted peoples
of The Book confounded. So, whose Europe?

The cities are filled still with parks and squares.
Storks, pigeons, starlings roost above music
and commerce. After the horsemen and the slaves…

 

 

 

© Copyright David Selzer
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2 Responses
  • Ian Craine
    January 30, 2015

    This reads well, but the full meaning eludes me. I feel Calvino’s ‘Invisible Cities’ lurking in the spaces between the words but I cannot yet find my way through.

  • John Huddart
    February 26, 2015

    I think we have a poem about uncertainty, that deliberately says there’s no way through. When times are peaceful, certainties return, when they are not, the monsters lurch towards Jerusalem.

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