In the latest issue:

Botanic Macaroni

Steven Shapin

What made the Vikings tick?

Tom Shippey

In the Lab

Rupert Beale

Will there be a Brexit deal?

Anand Menon

Short Cuts: Under New Management

Rory Scothorne

Out-Tissoted

Bridget Alsdorf

Sarah Moss

Blake Morrison

Poem: ‘Country Music’

Ange Mlinko

On the Trail of Garibaldi

Tim Parks

Art Lessons

Peter Campbell

You’ll like it when you get there

Tom Crewe

Early Kermode

Stefan Collini

‘The Vanishing Half’

Joanna Biggs

At the Movies: ‘The Truth’

Michael Wood

The Suitcase: Part Two

Frances Stonor Saunders

Poem: ‘Siri U’

Jorie Graham

Diary: Getting into Esports

John Lanchester

Close
Close

after Seidel

The road trip ends in someone’s parents’ redone basement,
All Berber and navy, and evergreen,
Corona in the mini-fridge, rural New Jersey.
On the big little-screen,
The typhonic roar of the Olympiastadion, Berlin:
Zidane knocks the wind out of Maserati – no, Materazzi! –
And our housing bubble.

Earlier in the summer and further south, at Bonnaroo,
A sixth-year senior at Slippery-Rock-U,
Wearing her bathing suit,
Sucks the nitride bliss from another kind of balloon,
Though a bank – or something like it – owns her, too,
And the minivan her father lent her, too
But not the pills he didn’t, too …

Oh, give her a break, she’s trying to make do
With Damien Marley and Disco Biscuits and getting stoned
Sniffing Oxycontin and baby powder and laundry soap.
She recycles her plastic water bottles,
But she has no hope: on land
And overseas,
The missiles are manned,
Each aimed at the other like Bugs and Daffy,
Who are, themselves, forgotten, cartoons.

Crikey! even underwater, her beloved
Towhead Crocodile Hunter is stung
Dead by the stingray, and everyone’s so sad.
(But who could say he didn’t have
It coming?) In his place, an alien child is born
To Mr Cruise.
Near the Port-a-Potties,
A bearded group holds signs that say: ‘God hates fags.’
Mel hates Jews.

Meanwhile the girl wakes up, her green tent all fallen in.
Good thing last night she only got her lower half in,
Her three-days unshaven
Thighs sweating now in the plastic intestines
Of this ‘International Year
Of Deserts and Desertification.’
This ‘International Asperger’s Year’.
Pluto and Rumsfeld will get their demotions.
Hussein will get his hanging –
But, wait, she thought he already did?

There’s the sense we’ve already gone over this,
Even the forgetting gotten over with.
Mozart is 250 years old, and it’s as if
We’d never met him.

On the drive back north,
The highway toll’s gone digitised and up a quarter.
Nothing to do but sleep at the wheel.
The last pillowy attendant tells the girl,
‘¡Feliz Año Nuevo! mi amore!’

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences