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AN AFTERNOON IN MAY

By our side gate the old laburnum – whose wood,

in time, may make a chanter or a flute –

is in bloom. I look up through its branches.

There is a little azure and smidgens

of green – and droplets, ringlets, links, chains

of cascading yellow, a torrent of gold.

 

***

 

Our Edwardian neighbourhood fills

with the machined roar of twin turbofans.

An Airbus Beluga – more Arctic whale

than Caspian sturgeon –

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THE MUSEUMS

For Sizwe Vilakazi

 

ROBBEN ISLAND, CAPE TOWN

 

Except when the Atlantic fog surprises,

from high ground in the city the island

is present like a leviathan,

its lights at night like white phosphorous,

a place of banishment since the first ships,

among seals and penguins.

 

DISTRICT SIX, CAPE TOWN

 

Razing its streets, clearing this cosmopolis

of Asians, atheists,

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HIGHWATER

The incoming tide brings shoals of mackerel fry.

Herring gulls, perhaps a hundred, more,

young among them in their mottled plumage,

are yelling at the water’s edge, feeding

in frenzy as the small waves scatter.

Far out on the low, narrow, wooden jetty

my small family leans over to marvel

at the fishes before landfall. At my back

is the white crescent of hotels, the town,

the estuary, the mountains, sun setting.

 

They cross the beach, granddaughter running ahead,

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‘MARILYN MONROE READING ULYSSES’: EVE ARNOLD (1955)

After the shoot on Long Island’s Cedar Beach

they drove next to a local playground.

While Eve loaded her camera, Marilyn sat

on some play equipment and read a book –

her worn copy of James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’,

which she kept in her car, and had been reading

for some time, often aloud to get it’s sense.

(She looks to be about nine tenths through

so into Molly Bloom’s unpunctuated

soliloquy of love and longing).

This photograph of a pretty woman

in her late twenties,

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UNDER THE LIME TREES

For Mike Rogerson

 

The layout of our local park was finished

the year my mother was born, the year

before the Great War was started, and named

for Alexandra Saxe-coburg and Gotha

née Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg,

widow of the late King. An avenue

of lime trees – and a single row along

another path – was planted. My mother,

the Spring of the year she was war-widowed,

pushed me in my pram beneath them.

 

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THE DIGITAL MUSE: THE POET AS WEBSITE OWNER

By Posted on 3 No tags

The site was launched in April 2009. A regular reader, Kira Somach, gave the site the following endorsement (in an email to me a couple of years ago), ‘Most people enjoy shopping delivered to their doorstep. I enjoy Selzer
Poetry delivered to mine’.  A pithy, witty rationale!

 

The idea for the site came out of discussions with a friend and ex-colleague, John Plummer. He shared the development of his book, LIFELINES, with me and we talked about self-publishing. I raised the notion of his doing so via the web, but he opted quite understandably for the conventional route.

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A SHORT HISTORY

For a generation, like weather cocks,

their skeletons swung near the highway.

James Price and Thomas Brown had robbed the Mail.

Years turned. The Gowy flooded and the heath

flowered. Travellers noted the bones

hanging in chains by the Warrington road.

Justices ordered the gibbet removed,

the remains disposed of. In Price’s skull,

while Napoleon was crossing the Alps

or Telford building bridges or Hegel

defining Historical Necessity

or Goya painting Wellington’s portrait,

a robin made its nest.

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EZRA POUND IN VENICE

‘But the worst mistake I made was that stupid suburban prejudice of anti-semitism.’ Ezra Pound

 

Sitting in a traghetto, Olga Rudge

from Ohio and Ezra Pound from

Idaho – together fifty years,

from concert violinist to poet’s helpmate,

poet maker to fascist propagandist,

he, typically, with stick, wide brimmed hat,

floppy collar, she, wearing woollen gloves,

left hand clutching a large, canvas bag, right hand

a carefully folded scarf, dressed, like any

elderly woman, for a chilly day –

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WISHES

For Evelyn b. 13.1.10

 

Born to good music by strong women,

Ella’s ‘isle of joy’, Nina’s ’it’s a new dawn’ –

how you nestle in your parents’ untrammelled

love, how you suck with unrelenting hunger!

 

Born into a world of rubble, with children

buried alive, a world of chicanery

and hatreds – you have entered a difficult,

place, little Evie, somewhere remarkable,

full of tears and amazing kindnesses!

 

Born into a world of snow,

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FAR ABOVE RUBIES

The silence woke her. Beyond the locked door

by now her maids should be chattering

in that harsh tongue. She went to the window.

Even the gulls on the battlements were mute.

And no guards on the ramparts, nobody

in the bailey. The straits were the colour

of the emerald at her neck – her father’s

wedding gift. A barque moved edgily

through the sands. Its pennants spoke of home.

The island’s coast was clear in the sun.

She imagined the light summer wind

stirring its fecund,

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