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Guarded from the people who elected them

and pay their wages, behind the high walls

of what was a country estate whose owners

hunted foxes for the fun, and answered

only to death and to penury,

the heads of state, with drums and with trumpets,

celebrate their fealty to weaponry –

while Australia’s forests are burning,

and bergs slip from glaciers into oceans

north and south, and melt discreetly, swiftly,

and Victoria Falls is silent, dry,

the plunging waters that were The Smoke

that Thunders, The Place of the Rainbow,

the plummeting river that became the Nile.




© Copyright David Selzer
2 Responses
  • Alex Cox
    December 28, 2019

    Very apt. There is also a case to be made for a satirical praise-fest of NATO in the style of McGonagall:

    In Nineteen Hundred and Fifty Two
    The Free Nations of the world set out to do
    Something which had never occurred before in the history of man:
    A military Alliance dedicated to peace! That was the plan.
    In Nineteen Hundred and Fifty Four
    The Russians came knocking at NATO’s door
    Asking to be allowed to join up, too.
    “No way,” said we, “We need an enemy, and it must needs be you.”

    And so on for 94 more lines. Happy new year!

  • Clive Watkins
    January 1, 2020

    Your last seven lines ought surely to be the defining context for any decision human beings make about their communities as we move into a future our past has collectively undermined. (It is a context that very much “places” the writing and reading of verse – say I, who have read and written verse throughout my life.) Any leader who does not take due cognizance of this fact deserves to be challenged. I am, however, profoundly pessimistic about these things.

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