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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,

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CHILDREN’S HOUR

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.

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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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A SHORT HISTORY

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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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UNBIDDEN

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Photograph: ‘Aber Falls’ – ©Sylvia Selzer 2000

 

Anger, despair – torrential, unstoppable –
possesses me, unprompted. Undeserved,
you suffer it like hail. It leaves no signs.
Your heart is adamant, ever yielding.

Rainwater, falling on the marshy uplands,
courses through the thick glacial veneer –
beneath the main road near the chip shop,
past second homes and holiday lets,
under the promenade and by the pub –
onto the beach and into the oceans.

Safe behind glass, from our rented apartment,

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‘EAST END GIRL, DANCING THE LAMBETH WALK’: BILL BRANDT

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‘East end girl, dancing the Lambeth WalkBill Brandt, 1939

 

He’s set it up, of course. Or, rather, framed it.
There’d be no feigning this young woman’s delight
in being ‘free and easy’ and doing
‘as you darn well pleasy’. She’s got her best blouse on,
with shoulder puffs, her sister’s shoes, which fit her now,
black ankle socks and shoulder length, unpermed hair
freshly washed – and waved, probably with Kirby grips.
Doin’ the walk, she lifts the hem of her skirt,

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