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GEORGE GERSHWIN AT CHIRK CASTLE

Chirk Castle from the North, Peter Tillemans, 1725

Chirk Castle from the North, Peter Tillemans, 1725


As we walk up the steep driveway, stopping

for breath at the curve where the castle

comes into sight – raised to block the routes

through the Dee Valley and Glyn Ceiriog

to starve the Welsh – a beribboned Rolls

descends, bride waving, followed, on foot,

by the wedding party in straggles –

black suits and brown shoes, wispy wedding hats –

treading the incline with tipsy effort.

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WITNESS THIS ARMY

Majdanek 1945 Polish civilians and Russian soldiers

Majdanek 1945 Polish civilians and Russian soldiers

During the interval, after act three

of Glinka’s opera, ‘Ivan Susannin’ –

pre-revolution, ‘A Life for the Tzar’ –

Stalin would leave his box at the Bolshoi.

In the fourth act, Ivan, the peasant, lures

the Polish Army out of Smolensk

and into a profound, winter forest.

They are lost. In the last act, they kill him.

Deep in the Katyn woods near Smolensk, pines

darkened the clearing where thousands,

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PREPOSITIONS

ON THE PONTE SAN ANGELO

Three roma children

on New Year’s Day kindle a

fire from last year’s leaves.

IN SEVILLE

After rain, a girl

struts her stuff flamenco style:

no one notices.

BY THE A3

Four chestnut horses

flick their tails in the shade of

a horse chestnut tree.

AT KOM OMBO

Crocodiles, Pharaohs,

Romans, French, Turks, British gone:

only tourists,

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GOOD HOPE

Pegram's Point, Cape Province, SA

Pegram's Point, Cape Province, SA © Sylvia Selzer 2009

At her back, the South Atlantic’s rolling seas,

those ice blue waters, break, skittering

on the silver sands. Burgeoning with child,

she smiles for the camera, as always

optimistically. Mussels encrust the rock

she leans on, kelp bobs like seals on the foam

and Southern Right Whales blow almost out of sight.

Due west, across the unbroken miles,

is Buenos Aires and the teeming hectares

of the Americas.

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LOOKING FOR PUFFINS: SOUTH STACK REVISITED – POEM FOR OUR DAUGHTER

South Stack, Ynys Môn, ©Sylvia Selzer 2009

 

Of course, by the time it’s my turn at the ’scope

the bugger’s turned its back. ‘It is a puffin,’

reassures the RSPB girl – and,

since she’s pretty and young, I believe

that what I see is not one of the teeming,

noisy, noisome, nesting guillemots,

razorbills or gulls. A hat trick: ageism,

sexism, anthropomorphism – plus

being churlish as a bear rather than

valiant as a lion.

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AT MYCENAE 1984

Behind the lintel of the Lion Gate,

swallows had built their nest. Two Mirage jets,

burning Nato dollars, buzzed the valley.

A sweatstained, overweight American

squatted in the shade of the ashlar ramparts,

fanning himself with a bush hat. “Hey, which

pile of stones is this?” A veteran’s pension

kept him in exile. His mom and dad

had once stood arm-in-arm with that eager,

cropped marine recruit, who was altogether now

someone else. Thanksgiving and each birthday,

he would call collect.

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