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A TOKEN OF A COVENANT: MARCH 16TH 2018

And suddenly there, through the high sash window,

is a rainbow – lit by the westward sun –

from behind the church and over the park’s

leafless, lichened trees to the gated, faith school.

 

This is the season of illusion and sleight

of hand; the season of the braying bluster

of blinkered donkeys spooked by mayhem

in a cathedral city; the season

of the wet slap of the laundering of money

on the banks of the gun metal Thames;

of clownish mendacity; of useful

idiocy; of media stooges.

 

Some wars start with an ear, some with a lie.

Some wars are fought for oil, some for dogma.

There is always foolishness, and cruelty.

 

One hundred years ago, the German army

was readying for Kaiserschlacht, yet one more

battle across the wastelands of the Somme –

yet one more throw of human dice. Meanwhile

the rest of Europe’s Foreign Offices

were watching neutered Russia’s reddening skies.

 

Fifty years ago today US soldiers

murdered the villagers of My Lai –

five hundred men, women, children, infants.

The three soldiers who had tried to keep them safe

were shunned when the crime was uncovered.

 

The rainbow has gone. The sun’s beam transforms

a neighbour’s window into a shield of brass.

 

 

 

© Copyright David Selzer
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1 Response
  • Clive Watkins
    July 21, 2018

    This can properly be described as terrific, David. The interplay of historical material in the context of the biblical reference, the imagery, and the current of anger that impels the powerful language, make this one of your strongest recent poems. The final detail of the brass shield, another transformative effect of sunlight, is richly ambiguous, both closing the poem down and opening it up. Bravo!

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