L I t T e R

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Launder the notes
and push your business

a lost radio show
like Spenser sang it

Limb, limn Limerick
(what is ever over)
play us a bit of a tune

out of every corner
lichen and moss
knotted oak
silver shafts of birch
something of the real right feeling

a shriek beneath
the stones
a bally vision
with the sense

spin for tonight only
fast aflutter slowed
the cry that cries to cry
one heart one tongue one ground
when the fork is driven deep

there they all come in
tag and rag
an undertaker planted West
makes a word razed out
ourselves alone

who’s skulking behind hedges
auditors will testify
thirty miles as the crow
to Hap Hazard

rakehelly horseboys
without a name
kern and gallowglass
shaggy and jagged

harpers or rhymers
with sweet bait
glibbed to render
the tryst after death
on wasteful hills

a taste of New Edge
filtered by incense
fashions a ditty into a dagger
for Irene’s good knight
to revive

the face on the back
is your self or your friend
there to rehearse
at feasts and meetings
how things began or mean
to go on

Whiteboys and Oakboys
blank each loaded purpose
to pick out of the soil
a living

gusty stinky belchy
loose-gobbed slop-mouthed
bag-bellied folk
will bash and batter

through the keep on the cliff
through the choir
that’s forfeit

do you hear the Mary
in Maritime the M
in Monarch as iron-struck
that letter drops

no rent and no tithes
this message don’t fade way
backed by the blaze of lead

Shame us by scoring the faces of saints
pulling pitiless the rood
to let all charring pages go
from an altar stain

loop the days and this track
is Captain Rock
tramping the wood by moonlight
to get some echo back

Broadwater is Blackwater
blood running placid
to the sea

your seam-text is Death without the priest
whether the bombed admiral
does like the abbey roast
by subdearfugue or skeltershute
he lies with squelching feet
skull shattered like a gourd

down the road
has no middle
squaddies clank metallic
prod the shins
over stones and bottles

a rifle butt is nervous
bangs a crucifix or little virgin
to get at truth
behind burning bars

open coat hands on head
what’s the name where
you going

cake the walls with a kind of mud
(why say helpless) as the blatant beast
in a key-cold embrace
blankets one stark hide

tit for tat
under the hood
there’s a hum
made white
in bits and bites

servant to master child to mother
shuttle the crystal
by code

a dragonfly
down pits burnt away
or graven loughs
shoulder to shoulder

here we go round
the dates et cetera
you say one I say naught
can shift the mark
on a devil’s piece

to get level
the right hand clutches
a lock of hair
as the beam overreached

read the rings of the mirror
gyral where all the world is caught

will you come will you will you
come to the bower

a short story—cut long

and sure it is still so sweet
a glen with a brawling stream
in leafy coils

each chip carries the scene across
first come tragic then gone farce

this is the bull
taken as blunder
that tells hub to rim
what reckoning

in either version of Ardour
won at the track or the table
what You did I must suffer

there in the malt
stamped on a sheet
slicer answers server


[E]very Englishman considers himself as good a judge
of Shakespeare as his pint of porter
. R.B. Sheridan

When you’ve got the real McCoy
and everybody’s heard it
though the hand is absent

when the hollow helmet clamours
Henry and William are missing

when the canon is cast
but cracks appear at the edge

what’s the harm in a little fresh business—
my father has part of Wycliff’s vestment
the seer cloth of a mummy
Cromwell’s buff leather jacket

Mary Tofts of Godalming says
she has given birth to rabbits

I cut the blank end-papers
from a roomful of quartos and folios
(unmarked sheets or those
stamped with a jug)

I borrow some thread from a tapestry
in the House of Lords

My ink is brown and watered down
to make a tawny line

Lear with the coarseness knocked out
and epithets embellished
I take my cue from a picture
over the chimneypiece in Mr Ireland’s study

Rowena offers wine to Vortigern—
it’s all in Holinshedde
but I conjure up the types and scenes

Old Constantius divides his kingdom
Flavia roams the forest
Edmunda has a mad song
the Fool a prophecy

O, horror, horror, my dear father murder’d
Now wo indeed hath made its master-piece
This seat is empty, fair Rowena take it
When thou didst cry, I strove to stop thy mouth
Then heigh-ho, poor dobbins all
We kill indeed, but still ’tis comedy

Punctuation go hang—who knows enough—
and age nineteen I can better Chatterton
at double
Ds and final Es

The players, save Mrs Powell and Mrs Jordan
let me down, with one line
in Kemble’s harangue with Death
spoke to receive every doubter’s howl

And when this solemn mockery is ended

I brought forth this not-undigested
not-unconnected medley
and men of superior genius
believed the Bard alone was author

If have deceived the world
who’s fault is that—
mine or the world’s

Copyright © Gavin Selerie, 2005

Gavin Selerie