The Occasional Poems of Ed Selbach
gathered together for the first time in
Selbach's Medicinal Verse
a compendium of orgiastic and semi-orgiastic verse
guaranteed not to give you aids
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Sweet Summer come and stay with me: eat bread
Drink wine and flood with light the woodland glade,
Dance gaily on the liquid water's edge
And fill this happy world with endless day.
Full Summer, will you be my friend? To walk
On moonlit nights through beds of scented rose,
To contemplate the vast illusion, talk
Of love and starry passions know, then close
The eyelids of desire. High Summer, come,
Be mine, in soft and yielding ecstasy,
In spirit and in sudden flesh, be one
And breathe upon the senses harmony.
Lie still, desire and touch the fragrant flower,
Then consummate midsummer's fleeting hour.
Mr Punch had to attend an affair
Without sad Judy, who indiscreetly
Ate too much cake. So it was that Sarah
Came instead, best underwear secretly
Concealed beneath a polite smile and that
Aura of being tremendously good
In the office. So this good pair were not
So surprised that out of the blue when food
Was passed from hand to hand that mouth to mouth
They began to know each other better.
Their leavetaking was abrupt, and then Love,
That old curiosity, did scatter
Good sense completely and they had it in
The car. Ever afterwards, it had them.
To his mistress reading a book
Take notice, love, I'll not be sadly pressed
Like flowers stuck twixt pages of your book,
Or pricked with pins and insect-like impressed
Upon the chance of catching one sweet look.
Your eyes are fine, I grant, and so your neck;
Your breasts the little mountains I once climbed
With fingers, left to wander, without check
Above, before, between, below, behind.
This pretty landscape, with its woods and hills,
Have I at times both roamed and ridden on;
So fix no ugly signs nor stick no bills
As 'trespass not' or 'enter not upon',
But sweetly to me give that golden look;
To me, my love, and put away that book.
When Easter eyes confuse uncertain hearts
And Christmas aches begin to pull and pain
Or summer woes assail you thick and fast
And autumn leaves you cold and in the rain;
Think on the dead, the cold, the grave, think on,
Think gladly on, think, therefore that I am:
You are: you will be: soon you will be gone,
A breath amidst the heavy tread of man.
No cold of fall will find you all alone,
Nor summer sun amaze your sleeping eyes:
No winter wind will bite you to the bone
Nor spring revive your sleeping summer fires.
Have pain and pleasure both, not one alone
For flesh in flesh shall live or turn to stone.
Ode on a pretty account
Credit not that I should be untrue;
I make remittance freely unto you.
Debit not my loan account, I swear,
All payments I will gladly to you bear.
Nor charge no interest, though interest
Accrue. I swear that I will do my best
To pay you when the debt is due, and more,
I swear, upon my partner's life, to draw
A cheque upon your bank, as large a bill
As might into your pocket go, and fill
Your sweet account. Your sweet account I know
Will open wide and make my money grow.
So let me in your ledgers freely go
And set my one against your pretty O.
I had, it seems, a head in dreams
And strange unnatural plots and schemes
To rid the world of vermin, lice,
And change the state to paradise.
My politics were unaware
And sadly lacked conviction. They're
Attempting now some breaking in
And burglary and other sin,
Perhaps before the day is done,
They'll be arrested every one.
And then my glass-eyed friends can stare
And stick their poles up in the air;
For what I say must then be true:
Convictions are what convicts do.
At the off-licence
Say spirit does the world have sense
To spend so big on little things
While seeking not to know from whence
Comes thought and cosmic wonderings?
Give slops, or funny little drinks
In tumblers dried on skins of woe
To those who can no further think
Or will no further forward go.
But spirit come and dance with me,
Give me your lips, give me your tongue,
We ever more shall faithful be
To one another, ever spun
In circles of desire,
O spirit breath of fire.
The cunning bird
The cunning bird I chased and chased
For days I chased and weeks;
It flew about my head and graced
My ears with many squeaks.
My ears grew ears to hear upon
My thoughts gave me no rest;
My passion grew to three feet long
And tangled with my vest.
I could not sleep, I could not sing,
My friends began to stare,
For all I did was praise that thing
And punch and kick the air.
I chased about like one possessed
With garters, rings and bows;
However I escaped arrest
Nobody normal knows.
I ran, I jumped, I leaped upon
A vicar at his prayers;
He cursed, then blessed, then drew a gun
And threw himself downstairs.
How could I eat? How could I sleep?
(My wits were sorely pressed)
Without a parrot that I keep
Then I saw it and it saw me,
It winked its heavy eye,
As if to say it would not be
Committed to a pie.
It flew in circles round about
And landed in a tree;
I cocked my gun and shouted out
The gun went off and blew my head
Six metres to the West,
The bird flew down and gently laid
Its beak inside my breast.
It fed upon my inner things
As if I were a stew
Then cocked its head and flapped its wings
And out of sight it flew.
Should you want to know more about me,
Set your passions and paradocks free,
The path is quite clear,
Abandon all fear,
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