March 5, 2012 At a Factory in Italy

Dear membranes,
I’m running out of smartasses, so if you have suggestions send them to me. Frederick Seidel (b. 1936) is more sardonic than smartass, but I think he qualifies for our purposes. This poem says so. It’s serious, but it’s devastatingly funny. I think so, anyway! He has a line in here that “poetry has power.” For proof of that statement we need look no further than the line above, which reads in its entirety: “A descendant of Samuel Taylor Coleridge speaks Italian to the rhinoceros.” Tha’ts my favorite line I’ve read in a while. It’s so ridiculous! But it reveals poetry’s power insofar as, somehow, in the context he’s created, it makes perfect sense. He’s made us accept something we should, really, never accept. He’s fooled us. What a smartass. -ed.
AT A FACTORY IN ITALY
The Man of La Mamma is a tenor as brave as a lion.
Everything is also its towering opposite.
Butch heterosexuals in Italy spend lavishly on fragrances.
The in thing was to shave your head, the skinhead look.
Guys spend more on beauty products here
Than in any other country in the world.
Everyone is also a boss.
The English executive assistant to the Italian CEO stays blondly exuberant
When sales to America plummet, when the dollar is weak.
Her name is Alice Coleridge. Her phone rings nonstop. Pronto, sono Aleecheh!
The world at the other end of the phone is a charging rhinoceros.
A descendant of Samuel Taylor Coleridge speaks Italian to the rhinoceros.
Poetry has power, as against the men and women actually making things
On the assembly line on the ground floor.
Someone had the brilliant idea of using
Factory workers in the ads,
And using a fashion photogrpaher to add elegance and surprise.
They found an incredible face on the ground floor
With a nose to die for, and paid her to straddle
A motorcycle her assembly line had made and pose in profile.
So what did the Italian nose do? She ran with the money to get a nose job.
-2009
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