Tag Archives: derek sellen

Derek Sellen – Three Tillings

……– according to myth, Plutus, the god of wealth, was conceived in “a thrice-tilled field”

The first

Plutus exhales –
his sweet breath turns our heads
giddy with desire.

We scrabble in furrows
to find gems, shuttle sieves,

dig through grit
to seams glittering with mica.

Plutus wants better,
has schemes to get it,

his furnaces and chimneys
breathe foul on us.

The second

Plutus squats,
his excrement is gold.
If he farts on you, spend it quick.

He sets his signature everywhere,
on contracts, plaques,
on the cornerstones of our houses.

Exhausted land becomes fertile,
debts ripen and tighten their tendrils.

Plutus is a little god
but he weighs heavy; the scales
tip favourably in lawcourt and town hall.

The third

Plutus belches,
wealth ferments inside his belly.

He’ll pack up business,
disappear to island hideaways,
leave empty vaults and rotting silos.

At the end of a banquet,
in a gilded chair under the chandeliers,
as ministerial guests glide off-stage,

Plutus snores.
No need to strive.
The soil prepares itself
for another sowing, another r(e)aping.

‘Three Tillings’ by Derek Sellen won second prize in Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2021) judged by Paul McDonald)

Derek Sellen

Derek Sellen has written poetry, short stories and plays over many years. He has read his work widely and has won various poetry awards. His poems have been published in Arts Council, Poetry on the Lake and PEN anthologies among others. The initial inspiration for The Three Tillings came from the release of the Panama Papers. His collection of poems inspired by Spanish art The Other Guernica (Cultured Llama 2018) has been very well reviewed.

Schrödinger’s Calculation – poem by Derek Sellen


Schrödinger’s Calculation

Cats hunt by probabilities,
knowing how to maximise opportunities,
as Schrödinger did,
making death-or-life decisions,
quitting Germany,
smuggling his mistress with him.

Two wives in a house on campus?
Hypothetical couplings?
This was a state of entanglement,
that neither Oxford nor Princeton welcomed.

They’d rather have opened the door
on the neat circle of a cat, nose on paws
– asleep or rigid –
than release scandal out of its box
to prowl the quads and wake the proctor with its howl.

Erwin used his privileges to advantage;
but the ones who stayed behind,
what were their chances? In a system
where randomness was suspended,
they found themselves closed in
as probabilities narrowed,
consigned to death, not life.

Erwin Schrödinger was not himself Jewish but twice had to leave
Nazi-controlled countries because of his political views.
He is famous for the ironic thought experiment of ‘Schrödinger’s
Cat’, in which the cat is simultaneously alive and dead.

Schrödinger’s Calculation by Derek Sellen was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2018) judged by Roger Elkin