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‘O what fine thought we had because we thought

That the worst rogues and rascals had died out.’



Where the four main thoroughfares of our erstwhile

Roman city meet, a many-legged dragon,

in vivid gold and red, curved and reared, to gongs,

drums, fire crackers on a February day.

Dancers whirled long white ribbons, a whorl

of streamers like a wild, wispy sky.

This was the year of the omnivorous Pig,

saturninely devouring its own children.

Next is the Rat, ubiquitous, cunning –

happy for self-harming fools, tax-dodging knaves.





Some of the elected representatives

of the people turned their tailored backs

on ‘The Ode to Joy’ – Alle Menschen

werden Brüder – that song of protest,

that anthem of jubilant community.

Two hundred years ago was Peterloo,

one hundred Amritsar. Injustice

is never forgotten – and good sense

may prevail. The parochial rhetoric

of violent, bitter men may choke them,

in their locked courts and gated houses!

The wisdom of the crowd, not its ineptness,

its ignorance, its folly may save us:

reform our lottery democracy,

unite Ireland, free Scotland, make Wales

autonomous, England a federation!




The new decade is close. You can hear

its jostling caravanserai of guile

and deceit; its proxy civil wars; its

alchemy of assertions made truths,

lies transmogrified into speculations,

hatreds tempered into virtues, histories

traduced, honesty persecuted.

But listen!  There, far off, is a mustering

of rustling drums, the subtle summonings

of gongs. Let chaos be our only hope,

and the triumph of youth!


© Copyright David Selzer
4 Responses
    December 29, 2019

    I never thought I’d like a poem with the word ‘erstwhile’ in it… but I do. Very much. Writers have to talk about the stuff and the shit that goes on – and this one does. Thank you, DS.

  • Gerald Kelly
    December 29, 2019

    David – I loved the echoes of Yeats! We can surely believe that “Things fall apart” when “…the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity..”
    Your vision of the coming decade under the rule of a proven liar and his satraps is bleak indeed but thank you for your hopeful ending.

  • Mark Chapman
    December 31, 2019

    A searing indictment of the populist criminals that are set upon souring all hope in the western world. Wonderful!

  • Ashen Venema
    January 31, 2020

    Your found succinct resounding words.
    And I sense that – too.
    … Let chaos be our only hope,
    and the triumph of youth! …

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