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David Selzer – Page 95 – Writer of Poetry, Screen Plays, Stage Plays & Fiction – page 95
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A NEIGHBOURHOOD OF STRANGERS

Buzzards splayed their wingtips against the sun.

A Phantom entered the glacial valley,

its fuselage burning – the pilot

and crewman still at the controls, their choice made.

In school, it was story time – magical

oak woods, changelings secreted. The children

heard a rushing like oceans. Their teacher

saw the fire approach and two young men,

with a hundred years of technology,

burst upon the huddled village’s

common land… Children dreamt of foreign men

gone to dust in a golden fire for a

neighbourhood of strangers.

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PRO PATRIA MORI

As fire storms travel, we are twenty miles

from the marshalling yards at Crewe, some twelve

and a half from a tracking station near

Wardle, sixish from British Nuclear

Fuels at Capenhurst and slightly more than

four from an unspecified RAF

electronic complex in Sealand – which

all must have their numbers on at least

one ICBM in a silo

east of the Urals and/or west of

the Appalachians.  And so, though there may be

nuclear winter in Hoole,

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‘A WINDY DAY’ & ‘A CALM MORNING’

 

A WINDY DAY, J.M.W.TURNER Tabley, the seat of Sir J.F. Leicester

They bought up land, made marriages, dispossessed

tenants and built their fortune on rents.

These commissions mark their zenith. Since then,

the estate has been sold off acre by

acre, piece by piece – one Turner remains,

the other hangs in another museum.

Some things are unchanged: in the distance,

the house’s palladian exterior

in local sandstone, the round turreted

folly on the small island in the lake –

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IN THE COMPASS OF A PALE

With branch, stalk, thorns, by a dry summer’s

overgrowth obscured, in one unkempt border,

a rose – traditional, heart red – bloomed.

Over tall weeds and grasses, tangled, brittle,

I leant to pluck it, found it blown, blooded,

a bouquet of wormy petals – left it

blighted, inviolate. Where the black gate

hinged to the wall banking our garden,

coffin-sized, skeletal leaves gathered,

whispering, stones, stones. Come winter, frost fissured

bricks and luxurious, pitchy earth sprinkled.

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LA CLEF DES CHAMPS

'La Clef Des Champs,' René Magritte, 1936



When the landscape breaks, shards of painted trees,

clouds, turf cascade in crystal slabs onto

the carpet – and the landscape is there still

on the next pane. Over the brow of the rise

are the world’s kingdoms: deserts silenced

by polished bone; uneasy rooms where

sepia furniture flowers; canvas; wood;

the gallery’s wall solid as money –

asservir le bourgeoisie through draughtmanship.

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BEASTLINESS

‘…hardly any Jews!’, The Matabele Campaign 1896,
Colonel R.S.S. Baden-Powell, Methuen, London, 1897


The British in Africa seem always

to have verged on the comical. There was

BP chasing a Matabele girl

through bush. He was ahorse, she on foot.

In tranquillity, he sketched the scene – the girl

bare-footed and -breasted, himself at a

gallop – for publication. She escaped –

but Rhodesia was made safe for Cecil,

the continent for Aids and exploitation.

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