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Anthony Seidman Five Recent Poems

Last Rant Before I’m Denied Entry Into My Big Toe

The napalms are sprouting palm trees.

The beheadings are spitting roses.

The vertical, steel planks open deserts.

But I am the forgotten being;
forgotten, the thin lips sealed against the gathering asbestos;
forgotten, the computer chip in my molar, the hair-long sperm slivering its tail beneath the photo on my passport, and my plasma as valuable as cheeseburger;
forgotten, for sipping sin, but no gold, for desiring the bride’s tears, but no minotaur;
forgotten, with a suitcase of dirt and tooth-brush;
forgotten for believing in a marble column;
forgotten, but dreaming slow descent into a dome of blue, vapor-trails weaving their psalms praising potable soda-pop, and cellphones for espionaged teeth;
forgotten, like the dimwit seated on the curb outside a charred orphanage and slurping rattlesnacks from a paper bag.

My sleep has been the cinder-block hut,
now a tetanus nest of rebar;
my good morning,
bells clanging to ears looped along a jailer’s key-ring;
my bride,
a red dress snapping in the wind & snagged on the claws of an acacia tree;
my morning commute to work, some minaret belching carbon or
assembly line inserted inside the burro spray-painted with zebra stripes;
my beer & repast of salt,
shavings of cardboard;
my daughter,
a plastic tiara, a soiled pink dress, a roller-skate, wheels still spinning in a landfill;
my ecstasy,
a stray mutt mounting a poodle in an alley with malarial puddles;
my absolution,
water’s squirt, squeegee, and rag I use to cleanse your windshield.


Is this the decline and fall?
Is this the partition carved from unused antidepressants where children kick a soccer ball?
Is this a corner where I tremble while coyotes and possums repossess the brittle chassis of my biography?
Is this the kind cultural anthropologist who will listen to my astrology of implosions?
Is this the eviction from the carousel inside a suburban mall?
Is this the thread thru the labyrinth into a kitchen where I assemble kale & raw tuna?

No, no.

The palm-trees are sprouting napalm.

The roses are blooming beheadings.

The deserts are slapping new paint on a wall.

This is the charnel house primeval;
this is the loving-kindness medieval;
this is the suit stuffed with processed meat, cow-lungs, pig-hearts, and
rhetoric burping judges who pledge allegiance to the crow.

This is the crumpling teeth who wish to intone spirituals but lack courage.
This, the fork in one fist, and snake in the other.
This, the promise for homeland, as long as it’s under water.
This, the story of smolder,
a fire without flames.

This: a shrimp cocktail in a steakhouse for the wealthy.

Sadder Than Tristan

Nobody has said the word Mango for days—
and it’s enough to make me weigh two silver coins in one hand,
and a glass of ether in the other.
No one either has said Azure, Mandolin, or Lagoon;
plenty of Autopsy, plenty of Botched Marriage,
or words nickel-tart like Budget, words that
bloat like Embargo, words like feathers clumped in glue,
words more vacant than the eye of a tilapia
on a fish-monger’s bed of ice;
words saccharine as Blessing, or blunted from
misuse like Genius, Patriot, or Passion.
No one has said the word Mango for ages,
let alone Dune, Rose, or Dusk;
no one has paused to simply utter Word,
like an appraiser peering into a diamond.
Already the uniforms are parading the Crutches before
the scurry of Shrapnel and Lynchings
reaches the carbines, the warehouses hording
barrels of nightmare which clutter
the cold forest of rebar and stagnant water.

Some have agreed not to notice.

But I have heard the word Earthquake, the word Carnage
a business suit sneezes when bats flap
from the pulpit in a Cathedral erected for manicures.
I haven’t heard the word Mango for ages—
simple, round, and sweet. I haven’t wept that fruition,
not yet, not for a while,
and that’s what others mean when they say the word Drought.

Empathy Lacks Postage And Can’t Be E-Mailed As An Attachment

I thought no one listened,
but I heard about a letter which had yet to reach me.

Who was I?
Clay. Bone-marrow. Pin-point of ink.

I didn’t think of myself as a hairdo,
a tie longer than the Mississippi, and rhetoric against
rapscallions scooping free Prozac into cadaverous jaws.

If I could sniff the letter, such prescience
of parking fines, hang-overs, asbestos, rust.

I tremble like
jungle canopies before the boom of Napalm.

The letter I imagined: an answer,
like the engine locking, smoking, screeching,
after the oil has burned to pure heat.

But letter doesn’t flick into my hands.

Why do the clouds stutter?!

I await the letter which has yet to be written, signed
with a signature as flowery as a Alabaman’s evening greetings,
his cheeks red, his jowls jubilant, and a white
kerchief in his right fist, as he wipes sweat from brow.

I await the letter whose author
surely over-estimated me,
because he would address me as Dear Sir,
and by the time the mail reaches my box,
Miss Evening,
whose gnarled fingers scratching at my bald pate,
making sure it glistens free
of pigeon shit, gnashed spiders,
She, who cackles phlegm,
that Spinster Aunt, will make certain
my forehead & scalp pave a highway where
the drivers will pass a shack by a yucca and chaparral field,
and a moon-pale boy, his head
resting in his hands,
elbows resting on window ledge.

The letter would contain the code to a safe containing Autumn’s toxin in a vial.
The letter would dragonfly, stray-dog, jitterbug, and then spontaneous-combust.
The letter, lattice of sadness, acrid chocolate, & green vomit deemed as cough syrup.
The letter, no private cognac for the suit and tie, but universal sludge.
The letter, a transcript of telephone sex between monkey & shoe-horn.
The letter, the map for the minotaur, so he may—at last!—
escape from the labyrinth shaped like a pile of filthy sneaker laces,
then pose for the cameras at the threshold’s opening while tipping a top hat.
The letter, a chair painted red,
empty, in the middle of a chamber 10,000 leagues beneath the sea.
The letter, combustive sugar.
The letter, cupola-styled architecture as a form of dysentery.
The letter, dictated in the language of tar, collision of asteroids, suicide by Disney,
blackboards cluttered with the algebra of moths, coupons for canned chili.
The letter, what’s swept under the garage.
What simmers in the millionaire’s private safe.
Gunpowder in a moll’s mascara.
Machineguns mistaken for lightning-rods,
when the tender marionettes of meat waltzed before their aim.

The letter would prove
a fitting cornerstone to shattered store windows,
beets boiled, stuffed with shit then fed to the Kittens of Holy Charity,
leather sandals dipped in goat’s broth, and served to Bankers as amuse-bouche,
while the owners of leather sandals sniff deposits of plastic jerky for nutrients,
and send money-grams charged with the energy
of owls perched on coffins, or strippers hooked
to antidepressants, or cheerleaders
licking the chilly urinals of high school distinction.

But no letter will reach me.

No arsenic blooms in my left eye. No
cactus asks the clouds why they pour vultures, no
mercurochrome for the sun’s gash on its right cheek, no
boxing-gloves for a petal who once wielded a tequila bottle.

I can’t swallow this without vomiting;
not taxicabs, nor OxyContin, nor candles lit following the repast of chicken’s fat
nor pure Mondays near the blue tongue of seagulls,
will pull me up through the toxins drifting above my parking lot,
those zeppelins of brownness woven thick as sweaters for the Dakotas.

Give me the grace,
O Expanse of Dark Matter & Isolate Flecks of Helium,
to be no more a martyr than the mountain lion
rifled for encroaching upon a Millionaire’s estate in the hills,
or the arrow-riddled Saint whose
agile body writhed in the shape of sensuous flames
as he sank, arrow-riddled,
basted with agony,
down the mastiff pole of punishment.

I Won’t Disguise Myself As A Steakhouse for the Wealthy

Now’s the ascension of the Orange Monkey;
deodorize my ears as he stammers from the Boughs of the Gold-Plated,
and let the Impressionist Tableaux sweating in Los Angeles museums
ooze purple & blue toadstools beneath the oven-sun;
let the clouds yawn, then snoop back into a squint of drought like
a self-puckering asshole seeking the company of polyps.

Enough months of linen and lemons as weighty as a bull’s testicles;
I was spoon-fed a granularity of cardboard and sugar
which militaries use as housing for hurricane victims,
or as hair-dye for a Slavic distension whose breasts
have ballooned memes slathered with mayonnaise.

Now’s the ascension of the Orange Monkey,
and Ariadne’s running amok, gleeful,
in her labyrinth on the sunny side of delirium.

I can despise the fruit dangling from Orange Monkey’s lowest branches,
as luscious as bacteria basting a freshly used latex glove.

Perfume-pump the few words not yet chained,
and let them rise above the topmost branches
before hornets zip them into bits of confetti.
But no one will be collecting the shards of color.
No one—soon—will waltz without a mask.

Mace and a heavy dosage of TNT won’t cure you of necrotic newsreels.

Some say the statues of saints have rang doorbells,
asking for a place to stay,
and if they can crash on the couch.

I try to stay in shape, on my mark,
ready to go.

I explode the host of leather methane-gas-bags;
I tight-rope-walk the eyebrows of crooked stock-charts;
I glue arsenic to the teeth of newspapers kissing mendacities;
but I fail when it comes to a sudden splendor of butterfly,
when remembering why my youth rattles a boxcar across fields below zero,
and I fail when listening to the better wisdom
of a chained dog howling in a warehouse.

Ah! There are some tomorrows too distant,
like sunlight on a bather’s hips, She
who turns the rum galleons back on their heels,
some tomorrows where everything breaks beforehand,
because the Jackals want you to dress up as a waiter
for surgery on broken hearts,
because many clamor for a steakhouse above the slums,
with a neon sign made of polysynthetic flutes & smiling tumors.

Don’t be fooled by that skyscraper.
It’s the Tree of Stoopid,
the Tree of coiffures that code one milkshake for a thousand Bolivian hens,
the Tree of titanium tirades, small orgasms injected into mouthfuls of heartburn,
the Tree with roots that snag 1,000 miles below the ocean’s surface,
only to surface and
froth pesticides into the breast-milk of Icelandic mothers.

Oh the Monkey, he’s Orange, Golden,
like microwaved cough-syrup gooped on canapés of Mandarin nightmare.
Take care, the Dakota fields they combust,
take care, the Antillean isles aching
in their loins like an adolescent kicked to the strip-club’s curb;
take cover the African lion, the domesticated zebra, and the coal of Pennsylvania;
there are gasmasks giftwrapped for you,
projectiles that vibrate and bing at you,
hallways longer than midnight,
painted white,
and that won’t dry their interrogation light
until the Tree of Stoopid blazes, carbonizes, and falls.

What astounds me…
is how the crumple of cry in the lily,
the mitochondria’s steam-engine-chugging & tenacity,
not to mention the seasons’ rusty wheels,
or the burst of blue-whale over surface
then his plunge as his baleen sieve steals
8,000 lbs. of krill,
how all of that
may continue.

This fragile glass of the world wilts me,
while I knuckle a turnip too bloody.

So That Night Shorten Its Hours

I avoid stairs zigzagging towards basements
flooded with formaldehyde, and
leaving their residue in the strawberry
I savor, or the glass of mineral water.
I conceal my concerns,
I erase chalked quotients from the blackboard,
I commit a smile.

I find myself, landed gentry,
enthroned on a patch of stucco and electricity.
But wasn’t I once the footsteps
entering the tunnel, the angular chin
bent on eviscerating the bull,
my xiphos
steaming with fresh blood,
wiped to a glisten against a wool cloak?

Or am I the farce of that fantastical scrap
sticking to my finger like a wasp?

Each day, the sun, a spider in the palm trees,
the agony of dogs,
the caravan of merchants revving their Jeeps,
the bus benches like saddles buckled around bellies of smog,
the hammers, the medicinal sandwiches, the liquor,
the orchards, the blood-banks,
the matrons snoring in their blue chambers,
the roads rumored to smack into prosperity,
is it all the real, the
Honest-to-God Drachma?

I conceal my concerns,
I commit a smile.

Far off, there’s a vendor selling jugs of night,
and they weigh no more than a jar of honey,
and he sells them even after dusk, when there’s no light.

And his shelves turn so dark in the darkness,
and the surrounding darkness turns darker yet…
but there are some lights on, some taverns stirring,
and I am neither comforted, nor thirsty…
and I don’t know if I should smile, or place a bet.

Anthony Seidman’s most recent collection of poetry is A Sleepless Man Sits Up In Bed, published in 2016 by Eyewear Publishing of London, as well as a translation of Luis Cardoza y Aragón’s Luna Park, released earlier this year by Cardboard House Press, and Smooth Talking Dog, translations from the poetry of Roberto Castillo Udiarte, published by Phoneme Media.
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