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All Posts By David Selzer


The Dodo, Ustad Mansur, Agra, 1610

The Dodo, Ustad Mansur, Agra, 1610




For Sarah:  always a conservationist, latterly a twitcher.


In Umbria – the cuore verde of pristine, wooded hills,

Orvieto’s honey-pale wines,

the paintings of Perugino and Pisano,

the Tiber’s milky jade,

tartufo nero

they stew thrush.



At least once in our suburban garden,



Blondin carrying his manager, Harry Colcord, on a tightrope.

Blondin carrying his manager, Harry Colcord, on a tightrope.

Witness The Great Wallenda, an aging

high wire artiste, who, for his final act,

required technology’s summation –

tv, automobiles, bottles of plasma;

crossed a canyon on cable thin as a wrist;

walked on wire a quarter of a mile

above the earth. He stood, twice, on his head

and the crowds of thousands gasped, then cheered,

the noise muffled in that oh! profound gorge.





A lark starting from the heather; a lamb

amazed by a heron; a hare gutted

at a turn in the road; the familiar path

obscured by fern, bramble, convolvulus:

the gallery in my head is open

all hours – by turns, thriving and derelict.

The sparrow in my chest, where my heart lay,

now flings itself at broken panes, now stills.

At the end of the pier, where steamships docked,

black-headed gulls and anglers watch and wait.

The steel-faced laughing man will read our stars.



Fanny Adams' grave, Alton cemetery, Hampshire

Fanny Adams' grave, Alton cemetery, Hampshire


After the fluorescent shops and the snatched music,

the side street was damp and dark –

but a bag of chips and a manipulative adult

made the emptiness freedom.


Waterways were trawled and the usual,

time-dishonoured suspects questioned.

Down river, high tides returned her nine year old body.


The funeral cortège was a carriage and horses

and the local press was effulgent.

But gossip condemned her single mother,



About teatime, when the coals were glowing

liquid orange and cream, strands of soot

would catch on the fireback,

flickering like torches in a forest.

And behind the wireless’ fretwork facade

the valves were alight with Uncles and Aunties,

soothing, articulate, evocative and refined,

bringing us safely to the Weather and the News.

We listened to the same wonders, you and I,

tuned the static and the soot to pre-pubescent stories,

sensing there was something else

beyond the sideboard.