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Authors: Frederick Seidel

Nice Weather

BOOK: Nice Weather
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CONTENTS

Title Page

Copyright Notice

Dedication

Night

Store Windows

The Yellow Cab

Downtown

Before Air-Conditioning

Midterm Election Results, 2010

Midwinter

Snow

Charlie

Arnold Toynbee, Mac Bundy, Hercules Bellville

Nice Weather

London

Dinner with Holly Andersen

Baudelaire

iPhoto

A Friend of Mine

Do Not Resuscitate

Cimetière du Montparnasse, 12ème Division

Rome

A History of Modern Italy

Mount Street Gardens

Moto Poeta

School Days

Back Then

Annunciation

The Green Necklace

Arabia

Victory Parade

Poems 1959–2009

Arnaut Daniel

The State of New York

The Terrible Earthquake in Haiti

La civilisation française

At the Knick

A Toast to Lorin Stein

Rainy Day Kaboom

Lisbon

Then All the Empty Shall Be Full

They Show You the Harp

Istanbul

Transport

Oedipal Strivings

News from the Muse

Sweet Day, So Cool, So Calm, So Bright

Cunnilingus

Pointer in the Field

Palm Sunday

They're There

One Last Kick for Dick

What Next

Rain

Egypt Angel

Track Bike

Also by Frederick Seidel

Copyright

 

TO KARL MILLER

NIGHT

The city sleeps with the lights on.

The insomniac wants it to be morning.

The quadruple amputee asks the night nurse what time it is.

The woman is asking for her mother,

But the mother is exhausted and asleep and long since dead.

The nun screams to stop the charging rhino

And sits bolt upright in bed

Attached to a catheter.

If a mole were afraid of the dark

Underground, its home, afraid of the dark,

And climbed out into the light of day, utterly blind,

Destroying the lawn, it would probably be caught and shot,

But not in the recovery room after a craniotomy.

The prostitute suspects what her client might want her to do.

Something is going on. Something is wrong.

Meanwhile, the customer is frightened, too.

The city sleeps with the lights on.

The garbage trucks come in the night and make noise and are gone.

Two angelfish swim around the room and out the window.

Laundry suns on a line beneath white summer cumulus.

Summer thunder bumbles in the distance.

The prostitute—whose name is Dawn—

Takes the man in her mouth and spits out blood,

Rosy-fingered Dawn.

STORE WINDOWS

I smile in the mirror at my teeth—

Which are their usual brown.

My smile is wearing a wreath.

I walk wreathed in brown around town.

I smile and rarely frown.

I find perfection in

The passing store windows

I glance at my reflection in.

It's citywide narcissism. Citizens steal a little peek, and what it shows

Is that every ugly lightbulb in that one moment glows.

A preposterous example: I'm getting an ultrasound

Of my carotid artery,

And the woman doing it, a tough transplanted Israeli, bends around

And says huskily, “Don't tell anybody

I said that your carotid is extraordinary.”

I'm so proud!

It's so ridiculous I have to laugh.

The technician is very well endowed.

I'm a collapsible top hat—a
chapeau claque
—that half

The time struts around at Ascot but can be collapsed flat just like that.
Baff!

Till it pops back.
Paff!
Oh yes,

I find myself superb

When I undress.

A lovely lightbulb is my suburb,

And my flower, and my verb.

The naked man, after climbing the steps out of the subway,

Has moderate dyspnea, and is seventy-four.

He was walking down the street in Milan one day.

This was long ago. He began to snore.

He saw a sleeping man reflected in the window of a store.

THE YELLOW CAB

Tree-lined side streets make me lonely.

Many-windowed town houses make me sad.

The nicest possible spring day, like today, only

Ignites my inner suicide-bomber jihad.

I'm high on the fumes of my smokin' sunglasses,

But my exhaust pipe has a leak, which smells bad.

Take away my hack license. Open the windows. I'm passing gases.

A driver of a medallion taxi has gone completely mad.

Yellow cab, yellow cab, where have you been?

I've been to the mirror to try to look in.

Yellow cab, yellow cab, what found you there?

Soft contact lenses on four wheels and a fare.

The million leaves on the Central Park trees are popping

Open the champagne.

There's too much joy. There's no stopping.

Love is on top, fucking pain.

DOWNTOWN

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.

BEFORE AIR-CONDITIONING

The sweetness of the freshness of the breeze!

The wind is wiggling the trees.

The sky is black. The trees deep green.

The man mowing the enormous lawn before it rains makes goodness clean.

It's the smell of laundry on the line

And the smell of the sea, brisk iodine,

Nine hundred miles inland from the ocean, it's that smell.

It makes someone little who has a fever feel almost well.

It's exactly what a sick person needs to eat.

Maybe it's coming from Illinois in the heat.

Watch out for the crows, though.

With them around, caw, caw, it's going to snow.

I think I'm still asleep. I hope I said my prayers before I died.

I hear the milkman setting the clinking bottles down outside.

MIDTERM ELECTION RESULTS, 2010

My old buddy, my body!

What happened to drive us apart?

Think of our trips to Bologna.

Think of our Ducati racebikes screaming.

We drank hypersonic grappa.

We got near the screaming Goyas.

What's blinding is Velázquez.

We never left the Prado—

And never saw Madrid!

That's what we did.

We met for lunch at the Paris Ritz.

We walked arm in arm

Through Place Vendôme.

Each put out a wrist

To try on a watch at Patek Philippe.

Unseparated Siamese twins,

We had to have the same girlfriend

And slept with her together.

We hopped on the Concorde,

Front cabin, seat 1.

Oh not to be meek and ache

And drop dead straining on the toilet seat.

Everyone on the sidewalk walks faster—

And didn't you use to walk

Springing up on the balls of your feet!

A single-engine light airplane

Snores in the slow blue dreamy afternoon.

This is our breakup.

We are down here falling apart.

The ocean crashes and crashes.

I put my arms around you—

But it's no good.

I climb the stairs—

It's not the same.

It's a flameout and windmill restart!

MIDWINTER

Midwinter murder is in my heart

As I stand there on the curb in my opera pumps,

Waiting for the car to come and the opera to start,

Amid the Broadway homeless frozen clumps.

Patent leather makes my shoes

Easter eggs by Fabergé.

The shoes say New York is still run by the Jews,

Who glitter when they walk, and aren't going away.

The morning after the Mozart, when I take my morning stroll, I feel

Removed all over again from the freezing suffering I see.

Someone has designed a beautiful, fully automatic, stainless steel,

Recoilless assault shotgun down in Tennessee.

The dogs tied up outside the Broadway stores

In the cold look with such touching expectancy inside.

A dog needs to adore. A dog adores.

A dog waiting for an owner is hot with identity and pride.

I'd like to meet the genius in Tennessee, or at least speak

To the gun on the phone.

I'd like to be both the dog owner and the dog. I'd leak

Love after I'd shot myself to shit. I'd write myself a bone.

SNOW

Snow is what it does.

It falls and it stays and it goes.

It melts and it is here somewhere.

We all will get there.

CHARLIE

IN MEMORY OF CHARLES P. SIFTON (1935–2009)

I remember the judge in a particular

Light brown chalk-stripe suit

In which he looked like a boy,

Half hayseed, half long face, half wild horse on the plains,

Half the poet Boris Pasternak with a banjo pick,

Plucking a twanging banjo and singing Pete Seeger labor songs.

I remember a particular color of

American hair,

A kind of American original orange,

Except it was rather red, the dark colors of fire,

In a Tom Sawyer hairstyle,

Which I guess means naturally

Unjudicial and in a boyish

Will Rogers waterfall

Over the forehead,

And then we both got bald …

My Harvard roommate, part of my heart,

The Honorable Charles Proctor Sifton of the Eastern District.

Charlie,

Harvard sweet-talked you and me into living in Claverly

Sophomore year, where no one wanted to be.

We were the elect, stars in our class selected

To try to make this palace for losers respected.

The privileged would light the working fireplaces of the rejected.

Everyone called you Tony except me, and finally—

After years—you told me you had put up with years of “Charlie”

From me, but it had been hard!

Yes, but when now

I made an effort to call you Tony, it sounded so odd to you,

You begged me to come back home. Your Honor,

The women firefighters you ruled in favor of lift their hoses high,

BOOK: Nice Weather
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