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All Posts By David Selzer

FEARLESS ARIAS

In the gardens of the Premier’s palace

with its white Baroque facade there are

children’s swings and a red roundabout.

The linden trees the old Archduke planted

though leafless are evergreen with outbursts,

festoons of mistletoe, their berries

opalescent in the gentle wintry light.

A dozen or so mistle thrushes graze

amongst the leaf mould and peck in the branches –

but one, perched at the top of a tree, sings

its trilling, boundless, woodwind airs as if all

of the provinces were quiet and listening.

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A BIT LATE TO THINK OF KAFKA

His new apartment was in a converted

eighteenth century farmhouse stranded

in a nineteenth century coastal town that,

as is the way of things by the accident

of geography, had become a prosperous port

and then declined. The back way in was along

a sloping path through an unkempt garden

then down narrow steep slate steps – slippery

that day with leaf mould. In the twilight,

two Waitrose bags-for-life in each hand,

he slipped, falling neatly on his  backpack.

However,

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ACCADEMIA BRIDGE

Although elsewhere they must compete with tall men

from Senegal selling faux Gucchi bags

and middle aged Roma women hunched like

supplicants as they beg with their cardboard cups,

short, slight Bangladeshi men of all ages

have cornered the market, on the always

crowded bridge, with selfie sticks, lovers’ locks

that illegally litter the rails, and a cache

of small umbrellas for wet, cruising tourists.

 

South is the church of La Salute with its

whorls, bell towers,

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CITY OF ART

There are the Biennale’s Big Beasts, of course –

this year David Hockney’s ’82 Portraits

and 1 Still Life’ at the Ca’ Pesaro (each

painted in three days) and, at Palazzo

Grassi and Punta Della Dogana,

Damien Hirst’s ‘Treasures from the Wreck

of the Unbelievable’, which took ten years –

the pavilions in the Giardini

and the Arsenale; the freebies

in rented palaces and tenements.

 

And there are the abiding grand masters,

the Titians, Tinterettos,

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FRUITS OF THE SEA

On the island of Burano, where women,

sitting at their front doors for the light, make lace

and men fish in the lagoon, and houses

are painted the profound colours of sun and sea,

there is a family owned restaurant

Da Romano (opposite the headquarters

of the Communist Party) whose first owner

encouraged those painters rejected

for the first Biennale to hang their work

on his walls – since when artists of all kinds

have come: Miro, for example, Matisse,

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GRANDE HÔTEL DES BAINS

‘A camera on a tripod stood at the edge of the water, apparently abandoned; its black cloth snapped in the freshening wind.’

DEATH IN VENICE Thomas Mann

 

…Cholera is no longer a rumour.

Besotted, face rouged, hair dyed, he dies

staring unseeing at the shallow sea.

Artifice, made and re-made, fades in the rain,

like the islands with their ‘gorgeous palaces’…

 

Near the Palazzo del Cinema –

where, annually, insubstantial

figures, louder than life,

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