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All Posts By David Selzer

GUESTS OF LIFE

‘We are the guests of life.’ Martin Heidegger

 ‘In ancient Greek the word for ‘guest’ is the same as the word for ‘foreigner’: xenos. And if you were to ask me to define our tragic condition, it’s that the word ‘xenophobia’ survives, and is commonly used, everyone understands it; but the word ‘xenophilia’ has disappeared…’ George Steiner

 

For Cicero books were the ‘soul of the house’.

The Ancient Romans knew a thing or two

about staying safe in uncivil times.

Nevertheless on his way to sail abroad

the lawyer,

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THE SICK MAN OF EUROPE

For John Plummer

 

‘History is a people’s memory.’ Malcolm X

 

It is VE Day. Though those who still survive –

the eye witnesses – tell angrily of waste

not sacrifice, what should have been a day

of the dead, and the maimed, and the displaced

worldwide is here one of tea parties, sing-songs –

while the toll mounts as if it were the first day

of the Somme. They lied then. They are lying now –

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WAITING AT THE GATE

On the notice board of the Methodist Church –

on the opposite side of the street

from where I sit at my desk typing this –

is a poster. It is a colour photograph.

In the foreground is a wooden five bar gate.

 

Once I am certain there are no prisoners,

like me, at their exercise – voluntary

exiles walking their dogs in the middle

of the road avoiding others in lycra –

I go over for a closer look.

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THE TEARS OF CHRIST

‘He beheld the city, and wept over it.’  Luke 19.41

 

We went up Mount Vesuvius by bus,

and stood on the rim of the crater

watching gases emerge from fissures.

We bought two bottles – a red and a white –

of the local wine, Lachryma Christi,

 for a fellow atheist from the gift shop.

As we walked back down the fertile slopes – the sea

before us, hazy, tranquil – we heard

a cuckoo. All of Campania seemed stilled –

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A RIGHT CHARIVARI!

All seemed particularly dystopian

as I walked out one morning down the high street,

towards MacDonald’s and KFC,

Café Nero, Costa and Starbucks,

boarded-up shops and charity shops,

and two young men selling the Big Issue.

Maybe it was the noise: the traffic’s grind,

an elderly busker’s cacophonous chords,

the fire engine howling – outside the KFC!

I approached the forming crowd, and overheard,

from customers smelling of smoke, rumours:

that one of the Kentucky Colonel’s

deep fat fryers had exploded into flame,

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BANK HOLIDAY

The heavy shower drilled on the frosted glass.

We sheltered under one of the high street’s

open arcades with sloping glazed-roofs  –

a Victorian refinement to the resort:

shopping sheltered from seaside weathers.

We were, by chance, in front of Poundland:

one window displayed Pepsi Max, the other

Cadbury’s Highlights, both cut-price sugar.

The Bank Holiday crowd sheltering with us

seemed disproportionately stricken, impaired,

overwhelmingly loud or utterly

silent, with austerity’s complexion.

 

As the rain began to clear a man,

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