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All Posts By David Selzer

2019

‘O what fine thought we had because we thought

That the worst rogues and rascals had died out.’

NINETEEN HUNDRED AND NINETEEN, W.B. Yeats

 

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,

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MARTIN MERE WETLAND, LANCASHIRE

Before the marsh on the coastal plain was drained –

to turn the dark, rich glacial soil

into the broad fields of market gardens,

selling fresh produce south to the port city

burgeoning daily from mouth to mouth –

the mere was vast, eight square miles and more.

 

Family groups wandered the margins –

to fish, collect eggs, snare birds. Settlements

became hamlets, became villages:

cutting the reeds for thatching, cutting the peat

for cooking fires from the ice age bogland.

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LORD WOOLAVINGTON’S HOUSE PARTY, AUGUST 1922

Jimmy Buchanan, self-made whisky tycoon,

became Lord Woolavington of Lavington,

Sussex, in January ’22.

He acquired his peerage, it was said,

with a post-dated cheque signed ‘Woolavington’.

To celebrate he hosted a lavish

grouse-shooting party that Glorious Twelfth

on his moorland estate near the Moray Firth.

 

To prepare for the party, heather had been scorched

so young grouse might fatten on the new shoots.

The corpses of polecats and pine martens

had been hung on gates and from fence posts,

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OUTLASTING KINGS

At Chester Zoo, where conservation rules

and breeding programmes thrive, there are three

Asiatic lions – two females

and a male, without progeny as yet –

in the old African lion compound,

one of Zoo’s first fairly spacious

enclosures. There is sand, grass, mature trees –

reflecting the creature’s historical range

from the Euphrates to the Indus,

from the Levant to the Bay of Bengal.

They have been hunted almost to death,

and are teetering on extinction’s edge

confined to a forest in Gujarat.

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ON THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE NATO ALLIANCE

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,

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APPLES AT ERDDIG: A GLIMPSE OF AVALON

Beneath the rows of limes edging to yellow,

the air, tangible with precipitation,

appears almost emerald, a sea green.

 

In the border beside the high wall, which marks

the tended gardens from the unkempt woods,

there are blooms still. A bee gathers nectar –

and the black, turned earth ripples slowly

as a mole forages in the underworld.

 

***

 

Beyond ruined Troy, and north of Paradise

abandoned, from where our words began,

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