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From one of the high rise budget hotels

in Portimao we picked up a group

of six challenged men and their two minders.

(Portugal, our tour guide told us later,

was enabling those – institutionalised

since childhood for learning difficulties –

to take vacations, with supervision,

from the drab, echoing, noisome halls).

Two were remarkable: a gaunt fellow

bent permanently double, always moving,

keeping close to the other, a joker

with moustached Arabic looks and frightened eyes.


We crossed the Arade – more reed bed now

than river – and entered ancient Silves;

visited the cathedral – an erstwhile mosque –

and the Moorish castle. The jester

talked almost without breathing, the bent chap

by his side. We drove through regimented

plantations of pine, acacia,

eucalyptus, climbing towards the spa town

of Caldas de Monchique – cool beneath its oaks

and umbrella pines. The stooped lad

ran quickly from shade to shade. His mate

spoke rapidly to the halcyon air.


We ascended Mount Foia – with its shop,

café, and air force radar station.

Westwards we could see Cape St Vincent,

the Atlantic – south imagine Morocco.

The two young men were sitting on a step,

out of the wind, smoking roll ups, watching

a family – mum and dad, two boys –

flying a crimson kite.





© Copyright David Selzer
4 Responses
  • Clive Watkins
    February 1, 2018

    Not to offer a literary observation appropriate to the aspiration of this poem, David, but I liked this partly because I know these places. (This, and the other poems you post, are so often the lineal descendants in genre and form of some of the poems in your two sequences entitled “Connections” in “Elsewhere”.)

  • David Selzer
    February 2, 2018

    My enthusiasm for ‘travelogues’ and the connection (pun intended) you make with some of the pieces in ‘Elsewehere’ is curious given that I’ve never journeyed (in any sense) very far from home for any prolonged period.

  • Clive Watkins
    February 2, 2018

    It was not the fact of this being a travelogue so much as its operating by noticing conjunctions in which disparate things become the context for each other and so hint intriguingly at new kinds of meaning. But maybe this sounds too high-flown. (I think not!)

  • David Selzer
    February 2, 2018

    An very interesting and telling observation, Clive. You’re right, of course, but it’s not something I do consciously any more. I suspect that my reading most of Shakespeare and all of the Metaphysical poets in my adolescence shaped that way of expressing things. I do value your comments – their breadth as well as depth. Thank you.

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