The honey, the humming of a million bees,
In the middle of Florence pining for Paris;
The whining trembling the cars and trucks hum
Crossing the metal matting of Brooklyn Bridge
When you stand below it on the Brooklyn side—
High above you, the harp, the cathedral, the hive—
In the middle of Florence. Florence in flames.
Like waking from a fever … it is evening.
Fireflies breathe in the gardens on Bellosguardo.
And then the moon steps from the cypresses and
A wave of feeling breaks, phosphorescent—
Moonlight, a wave hushing on a beach.
In the dark, a flame goes out. And then
The afterimage of a flame goes out.
I don’t believe in anything, I do Believe in you, vanished particles of vapor. Field of force, Undressed, undimmed Invisible, Losing muons and gaining other ones, Counterrotations with your Robed arm raised out straight to each side In a dervish dance of eyes closed ecstasy,
Frederick Seidel, opening lines to “The Last Poem in the Book,” These Days (Alfred A. Knopf, 1989)
And again at night, when I come back from wherever I’ve gone out to, I work. I walk around the city with the poem I’m working on folded up in my pocket. It’s a rabbit’s foot. The poem’s in my head. I don’t need the piece of paper.
Frederick Seidel, from “The Art of Poetry Writing, No. 95,” Paris Review (No. 1890, Fall 2009)
I like poems that are daggers that sing. I like poems that for all the power of the sentiments expressed, and all the power to upset and offend, are so well made that they’re achieved things. However much they upset you, they also affect you.
I ride the cosmos on my poetry Ducati, Big Bang engine, einsteinium forks.
Let me tell you about the extraterrestrial Beijings and New Yorks.
You are dear planet Earth, where my light-beam spaceship will land.
I’ll land, after light-years of hovering, and take your hand.
A man picks up the telephone to hear his messages, Returns the handset to the cradle, looking stunned. The pigeon on the ledge outside the window Bobs back and forth in front of New York City, moaning.
A man takes roses to a doctor, to her office, And gets himself buzzed in, and at the smiling front desk Won’t give his name to the receptionist, just leaves red roses. The doctor calls the man the next day, leaves a message.
There isn’t anything more emptiness than this, But it’s an emptiness that’s almost estival. The show-off-ness of living full of May Puts everything that’s empty on display.
The pigeon on the ledge outside the window Moans, bobbing up and down, releasing whiteness. The day releases whiteness on the city. And May increases.
Seersucker flames of baby blue and white Beneath a blue-eyed Caucasian sky with clouds Fill up the emptiness of East Side life Above a center strip that lets red flowers grow.
They call them cut flowers when they cut them. They sell the living bodies at the shop. A man is bringing flowers to the doctor, But not for her to sew them up.
And May is getting happy, and the temperature is eighty. And the heart is full of palm trees, even when it’s empty. The center strip migraine down Park Avenue sees red. Girl with a Red Hat in the Vermeer show is what it sees.
Vermeer went a day and a half from being healthy to being dead. A city made of pigeons is moaning in a morgue that’s a garden. The red hat reddens the Metropolitan. It’s its harem.