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David Selzer – Page 89 – Writer of Poetry, Screen Plays, Stage Plays & Fiction – page 89
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THE PRICE

Just beyond the lamp’s beam, where coal and dark

were one, was fire, flood, blast and rockfall.

Shoring bulged, split. Rock jerked through. Earth returned.

Exploited roofs fell, distantly like sighs.

How men loved life to work that labyrinth

crowded with frustrated lives! There were

children in the collapsed seams. There was dust

in ears, nostril, mouth, pores – ubiquitous

as death, death’s colour – and in the palm, a chance

shaving from the crushed forests, the suppressed

centuries, drawing blood.

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THE GREATEST OF THESE

All day I was accosted by the same

black wino who called me, “Sir”, who had not,

he said, worked for three years, had an illness

(unspecified) and never knew me though

we met outside the Tribune Tower, the

Art Institute, a camera shop on

Wabash, Berghof’s, and then under the El

at State and Jackson! Finally, as I

took my first Wild Turkey of the evening

while I stood at my hotel window, there

he was on the far side of Harrison,

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PARTING THE WAYS

Earthmovers roared, made a whirling progress

six days a week: a four-lane highway

to bypass our provincial town. Gone were

Traveller’s Joy, Heartsease, Love-in-Idleness.

Our wood and its narrow roadway – a lovers’

thoroughfare – severed. Only clay was left

from world’s edge to world’s end: a no-man’s-land,

a dried-up riverbed. One Sunday,

our daughter crossed the silent excavation

and, from the opposite bank, called out:

‘It’s just like the Red Sea!’ And she waved.

We acknowledged the future lovingly.

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A LIFE

Esther Philips, oldest of thirteen, came

from Liverpool, had tea with Buffalo

Bill and, having siblings and her mother,

a drunkard, to care for, refused an offer

to join a chorus line. When I knew her, she

had no teeth, wore the same two black dresses

and munched Quaker Oats between meals. She cried

when I played ‘La Fille Aux Cheveux De Lin’

on the upright in the back room. She outlived

two husbands and four of seven children –

and died saying that she knew how Jesus felt.

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SAUDADE

'Saudade', Almeida Junior, 1899

'Saudade', Almeida Junior, 1899


 

We sheltered in the lee of the lighthouse

at what was once the end of the world,

the caliphate, for half a millennium.

Lovers still, we watched the squall move eastwards,

obscure the Sagres promontory –

whose fort’s white walls hold the Navigator’s

stone anemometer: shaped like a compass rose,

big as a bull ring, grooved like a millstone.

His caravels outflanked Islam, rounded,

at last,

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