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France for Boys

Frederick Seidel, 21 July 2005

... There wasn’t anyone to thank. Two hours from Paris in a field. The car was burning in a ditch. Of course, the young star of the movie can’t be killed off so early. He felt he had to get off the train when he saw the station sign Charleville – Without knowing why – but something had happened there. Rimbaud explodes with too good, With the terrible happiness of light ...

Three Poems

Frederick Seidel, 12 September 2013

... A Problem with the Landing Gear Cars travelling the other way On the other side of the double yellow dividing line Carry people you don’t know and never will. The woman on the other side of the bed reading a book Is likewise going somewhere else. You are and you aren’t yours. It’s like you’re on the other side of the road From yourself in your car ...

Egypt Angel

Frederick Seidel, 8 September 2011

... I’m not on your side, whichever side you’re on. My enthusiasm for Nasser is long gone. Hail, Hosni Mubarak, and farewell! There’s the old dictator dolt On TV, a contraption of dyed hair and hair gel. Angels in revolt Fill Tahrir Square. The angel Gabriel blows his horn To announce to the reborn, You’ve been born! And Koranically commands, Recite! Here are the things that are right! Day after day of secular celebration turns into night ...

To Stop the World from Ending

Frederick Seidel, 11 September 2014

... A man sits counting the floor tiles of the bathroom floor, Counts silently left to right, then right to left, while pressure mounts, And while, in urgently increasing amounts, His sphincter speaks up like a kazoo and starts to snore. Six miles later, working at his desk, the man Nears Antarctica and the palm-tree beach, And reaches for a hand to hold, a harbour he can’t reach ...

Scotland

Frederick Seidel, 5 June 1980

... A stag lifts his nostrils to the morning In the crosshairs of the scope of love, And smells what the gun calls Scotland and falls. The meat of geology raw is Scotland: Stone Age hours of stalking, passionate aim for the heart, Bleak dazzling weather of the bare and green. Old men in kilts, their beards are lobster-red. Red pubic hair of virgins white as cows ...

On Wings of Song

Frederick Seidel, 8 May 1986

... I could only dream, I could never draw, In Art with the terrifying Mrs Jaspar Whom I would have done anything to please. Aquiline and aloof in the land of the button nose, her smile Made her seem a witch, my goddess, Too cool, too cold. She was my muse Because she hardly spoke a word. We used to pronounce her name to rhyme with Casbah, Mimicking her fahncy Locust Valley lockjaw ...

Istanbul

Frederick Seidel, 6 August 2009

... Stray dogs with a red plastic tag in one ear Have been licensed By the city to be safe and allowed to live in the street, So they wander around, or more likely just lie there, Healthy, checked by a city vet, without a care. They’re red-tagged Turks and they’re an elite. You walk past them in the street. They’re bums, they’re the homeless, not educated ...

Morning and Melancholia

Frederick Seidel, 17 April 2014

... Mr X, a bureaucrat at the UN Secretariat, who, with his wife and child, Lived in a collapsing Gatsby mansion in Oyster Bay My wife and I rented half of for that summer, depended for everything On Shantilal, the sweet houseboy with a shy moustache Who did everything with a smile: Plumbing, painting, roof repair, keeping immaculate the long white gravel drive, Electrician, cook, butler, nanny, gardener, housemaid, everything – Including brilliant, indefatigable badminton – Everything except the one thing he had been promised And which had persuaded him to leave his wife and son in India And come to work for Mr X in America For forty dollars a month – Namely, to learn to drive a car ...

Two Poems

Frederick Seidel, 11 April 2013

... February 30th The speckled pigeon standing on the ledge Outside the window is Jack Kennedy – Standing on one leg and looking jerkily around And staring straight into the room at me. Ask not what your country can do for you – Ask what you can do for your country. Here’s how. That wouldn’t be the way I’d do it. I’m afraid you leave me no choice now ...

America

Frederick Seidel, 4 February 2016

... Hemingway and Wallace Stevens got in a fight, Drunken fisticuffs in Paris over who was right. En garde! Put up your dukes! Then one of them suddenly pukes. The moon turned into the sun overnight. Pound isn’t on Mount Rushmore yet. Support to put Pound there is hard to get. Add Ezra Pound to Mount Rushmore! Add his face to the other presidents! Let South Dakota hear his antique I’m-reciting-poetry voice ...

The Blue-Eyed Doe

Frederick Seidel, 19 January 1984

... I look at Broadway in the bitter cold, The centre strip benches empty like today, And see St Louis. I am often old Enough to leave my childhood, but I stay. A winter sky as total as repression Above a street the colour of the sky; A sky the same gray as a deep depression; A boulevard the colour of a sigh: Where Waterman and Union met was the Apartment building I’m regressing to ...

Two Poems

Frederick Seidel, 3 March 1983

... A Dimpled Cloud Cold drool on his chin, warm drool in his lap, a sigh, The bitterness of too many cigarettes On his breath: portrait of the autist Asleep in the arms of his armchair, age thirteen, Dizzily starting to wake just as the sun Is setting. The room is already dark while outside Rosewater streams from a broken yolk of blood. All he has to do to sleep is open A book; but the wet dream is new, as if The pressure of De Bello Gallico And Willa Cather face down on his fly, Spread wide, one clasping the other from behind, Had added confusion to confusion, like looking For your glasses with your glasses on, A mystically clear, unknowing trance of being ...

Claudio Castiglione and Massimo Tamburini

Frederick Seidel, 22 January 2015

... The motorcycle looks somewhat dated but is indisputably an angel. Like an electric chair before the current goes on. Like an electric chair before the switch is thrown. You’ve eaten your last meal, the priest has left the room. The motorcycle between your legs is an angel Revving its desmodromic basso profondo into a scream. It’s Massimo Tamburini’s great 1994 Ducati 916 design, the Nine Sixteen! Massimo’s soul in metal, slender as a child, Glory whose maybe slightly dated beauty sings eternal ...

The Lovely Redhead

Frederick Seidel, 30 August 2012

... In the coloured section of St Louis, back When life was white and black, I’m skimming the modest rooftops in a stolen black Cadillac, Which happens to be my father’s, and I fly too high, And wake up in my bed this morning wondering why I’m an old white man in bed in 2012 in Manhattan Not next to a lovely redhead whose skin is satin. Pardon me if I grab the remote before I open my eyes ...

Lisbon

Frederick Seidel, 26 February 2009

... Quite frankly, nothing much happens. You walk downhill all day From the fascistically monumental Four Seasons Ritz Hotel. I have to say, I’ve had a pleasant stay. My Junior Suite makes me feel like Mussolini, it is huge. I think of the edifice as Salazar in stone. Salazar’s slogan for Portugal was ‘Proudly Alone’, My kind of dictator. He wanted a grand hotel in Lisbon And arranged to have one ...

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