Remember last summer when I fell in love with Frederick Seidel, the
glowering New Yorker with the perverted mind, dark mood, and graceful
line? Well friends, I’m still in love, and not just because his name
spells “sick leer freed id” when the letters are all jumbled up. No,
it’s more that I found this poem in the New Yorker, published July
5th, which suggests to me that if it is meant to be historically
accurate, it must really be about LAST year’s fireworks, which I
watched from Hoboken with members of this forum. Also, he points of
the reason for the change (from East River to Hudson), and LAST year
was the change of venue; if I understand correctly this year the show
just stayed on the left hand side.
In any case, this poem raises many questions, such as what do you
really think of the grand finale at a fireworks show? Cliched?
Awesome? Worth the wait? Overwrought? Also, it reads like a sonnet but
it’s not, really. Who else writing today could fit the line “What a
joy to eat the unborn” neatly into a lyric about fireworks? -ed.
July 4th fireworks exhale over the Hudson sadly.
It is beautiful that they have to disappear.
It’s like the time you said I love you madly.
That was an hour ago. It’s been a fervent year.
I don’t really love fireworks, not really, the flavorful floating shroud
In the nighttime sky above the river and the crowd.
This time, because of the distance upriver perhaps, they’re not loud,
Even the colors aren’t, the patterns getting pregnant and popping.
They get bigger and louder when they start stopping.
They try to rally
At the finale.
It’s the four-hundredth anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery—
Which is why the fireworks happen on this side of the island this year.
Shad are back, and we celebrate the Hudson’s Clean Water Act recovery.
What a joy to eat the unborn. We’re monsters, I fear. What monsters we’re.
We’ll binge on shad roe next spring in the delicious few minutes it’s here.
Forgive my 2-week absence. Things happened; mistakes were made.
Listen, if I said we were going to read a poet whom critic Adam Kirsch has called “the best American poet writing today,” who is a winner of the LA Times Book Prize, who counts among his admirers Billy Collins and Paul Muldoon, who has been a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, and who just celebrated the publication of hisCollected Poems, 1959-2009, you’d probably think, “Oh, goody, a familiar name!”, right? Well, you tell me: Frederick Seidel.
As you all know I treat myself to one new book of poetry a year (sad, in its way, but true). Not having the $40 for the collected poems in cloth, I went with 2006’s Ooga Booga, the title of which jokingly refers to his reputation as scary, dark, menacing, a sophisticated poet of our emotional underbellies. Or really, his emotional underbelly. Oh and literal underbellies, too. The man likes his sex. The tone of the poems I’ve read so far is invitingly personal and astringently ironic. His other choices–diction (pretty erudite), rhythm, form, length, rhyme–are all pretty “normal” for a dude writing essentially realist, lyric poetry in the second half of the American 20th Century. And something about my mindset draws me to his ouevre, which I’m glad to have just discovered. Watch (listen) how a strange lack of punctuation–coupled perhaps with the time-bending properties of mid-day alcohol consumption–here maintains his illusion of zealous, reckless speed. -ed.
for Paolo Ciabatti
I spend most of my time not dying.
That’s what living is for.
I climb on a motorcycle.
I climb on a cloud and rain.
I climb on a woman I love.
I repeat my themes.
Here I am in Bologna again.
Here I go again.
Here I go again, getting happier and happier.
I climb on a log
Torpedoing toward the falls.
Basically, it sticks out of me.
The F-16s take off in a deafening flock,
Shattering the runway at the airbase at Cervia.
They roar across horizontally
And suddenly go straight up,
And then they lean backwards and level off
And are gone till lunchtime and surprisingly wine.