A well done New York Times Magazine profile this weekend alerted me to the existence of the poet Frederick Seidel and the fact that he is from St. Louis.
The story, by Wyatt Mason, made me feel as if I should have known all about Seidel by now, especially since his reputation is said to precede him - a reputation that includes a rap for being "the Darth Vader of contemporary poetry."
I like that image!
I also like Seidel's poetry, as quoted in Mason's piece and as discovered through a little desultory web searching this morning before I left the hotel. It's not hard to see the things about him that drive some people crazy, but for whatever reason they don't put me off.
Of course, doing what I do, I immediately start to fantasize about scoring one of his poems. I plan to pick up some of his books and look for a candidate, though a piece reprinted on The New Yorker site already strikes me as a really strong poetry score candidate.
Poem by the Bridge at Ten-shinThough they are very different poems by very different poets, this piece appeals to me as Stefene Russell's poem Go South for Animal Index appealed to me: as a long poem that is just dying to be a lyric sheet for a record of melodic rock music. Guided by Voices type deal. Guided by the voice of the Darth Vader of contemporary poetry ...
by Frederick Seidel
This jungle poem is going to be my last.
This space walk is.
Racing in a cab through springtime Central Park,
I kept my nose outside the window like a dog.
The stars above my bed at night are vast.
I think it is uncool to call young women Ms.
My darling is a platform I see stars from in the dark,
And all the dogs begin to bark.
My grunting gun brings down her charging warthog,
And she is frying on white water, clinging to a log,
And all the foam and fevers shiver.
And drink has made chopped liver of my liver!
Between my legs it’s Baudelaire.
He wrote about her Central Park of hair.
I look for the minuterie as if I were in France,
In darkness, in the downstairs entrance, looking for the light.
I’m on a timer that will give me time
To see the way and up the stairs before the lights go out.
The so delicious Busby Berkeley dancers dance
A movie musical extravaganza on the staircase with me every night.
Such fun! We dance. We climb. We slip in slime.
We’re squirting squeezes like a wedge of lime!
It’s like a shout.
It’s what minuterie is all about.
Just getting to the landing through the dark
That has been interrupted for a minute is a lark.
And she’s so happy. It is grand!
I put my mobile in her ampersand.
The fireworks are a fleeting puff of sadness.
The flowers when they reach the stars are tears.
I don’t remember poems I write.
I turn around and they are gone.
I do remember poor King Richard Nixon’s madness.
Pierre Leval, we loved those years!
We knocked back shots of single malt all night.
Beer chasers gave dos caballeros double vision, second sight—
Twin putti pissing out the hotel window on the Scottish dawn.
A crocodile has fallen for a fawn.
I live flap copy for a children’s book.
He wants to lick. He wants to look.
A tiny goldfinch is his Cupid.
Love of cuntry makes men stupid.
It makes men miss Saddam Hussein!
Democracy in Baghdad makes men think
Monstrosity was not so bad.
I followed Gandhi barefoot to
Remind me there is something else till it began to rain.
The hurricane undressing of democracy in Baghdad starts to sink
The shrunken page size of the New York Times, and yet we had
A newspaper that mattered once, and that is sad,
But that was when it mattered. Do
I matter? That is true.
I don’t matter but I do. I lust for fame,
And after never finding it I never was the same.
I roared into the heavens and I soared,
And landed where I started on a flexing diving board.
I knew a beauty named Dawn Green.
I used to wake at the crack of Dawn.
I wish I were about to land on Plymouth Rock,
And had a chance to do it all again but do it right.
It was green dawn in pre-America. I mean
Great scented forests all along the shore, which now are gone.
I’ve had advantages in life and I pronounce Iraq “Irrock.”
The right schools taught me how to tock.
I’m tocking Turkey to the Kurds but with no end in sight.
These peace tocks are my last. Goodbye, Iran. Iran, good night.
They burned the undergrowth so they could see the game they hunt.
That made the forest a cathedral clear as crystal like a cunt.
Their arrows entered red meat in the glory
Streaming down from the clerestory.
Carine Rueff, I was obsessed—I was possessed! I liked your name.
I liked the fact Marie Christine Carine Rue F was Jewish.
It emphasized your elegance in Paris and in Florence.
You were so blond in Rue de l’Université!
The dazzling daughter of de Gaulle’s adviser Jacques Rueff was game
For anything. I’m lolling here in Mayfair under bluish
Clouds above a bench in Mount Street Gardens, thinking torrents.
Purdey used to make a gun for shooting elephants.
One cannot be the way one was back then today.
It went away.
I go from Claridge’s to Brands Hatch racing circuit and come back
To Claridge’s, and out and eat and drink and bed, and fade to black.
The elephants were old enough to die but were aghast.
The stars above this jungle poem are vast.
To Ninety-second Street and Broadway I have come.
Outside the windows is New York.
I came here from St. Louis in a covered wagon overland
Behind the matchless prancing pair of Eliot and Ezra Pound.
And countless moist oases took me in along the way, and some
I still remember when I lift my knife and fork.
The Earth keeps turning, night and day, spit-roasting all the tanned
Tired icebergs and the polar bears, which makes white almost contraband.
The biosphere on a rotisserie emits a certain sound
That tells the stars that Earth was moaning pleasure while it drowned.
The amorous white icebergs flash their brown teeth, hissing.
They’re watching old porn videos of melting icebergs pissing.
The icebergs still in panty hose are lesbians and kissing.
The rotting ocean swallows the bombed airliner that’s missing.