By Frederick Seidel
Manhattan shrinks to a tiny tooth
Of towers far below as we accelerate violently into verse and space
And leave the road behind.
Congress is having a stroke, and it’s a heart attack, and it can’t face
China and the truth
Fulminating from Duluth.
Everest is the penthouse of the Earth and God is on my mind,
But I’m more interested in getting off the Earth to your Down Under.
My spirituality is to go hypersonic—
And fly hypersonically out of New York on the Hampton Jitney to Sagaponack,
Where the grass is green as the green of a Memling and the sky is you,
Where the gulls cry with white wings and the waves gush fresh as dew.
The time has come for magnitudes of thunder
To split the vast nonsense of death asunder.
My subject is New York out my window where
The world is a mirage in the nude.
My subject is the Sunday-morning TV talk shows, which I,
Loving politics, eat like food.
I must say, Palm Sunday means nothing to me. I don’t care.
It’s almost time to nail Christ to the air.
It’s almost Easter and the pundit is in the sky.
I hope there really is another universe—
New evidence says there must be—where Jesus isn’t born,
Nor the Buddha, nor Mohammed, all the porn.
Evidence indeed suggest other universes, nursed by the universe breast,
The Big Bang being the breast, the first suck being the best,
Because that suck is the void in reverse.
Then came the Pharisees, Pontius Pilate, six million Jews killed, and worse.
Close your eyes while you read this
Default setting for the Divinity.
It’s Mohammed in the cave and the angel commanding: Recite!
Close your eyes to see infinity.
God bless the bliss
of the kiss
Of Judas Iscariot that won’t come out right,
But comes out right. It’s in 3-D. It’s an illusion.
Mecca today in the Arab sunlight is a white bridal gown.
The Buddha smiling at a stoplight sees the red nose of a clown.
The Central Park Zoo barking seals that you love, darling,
Sun themselves in the same sunlight as the talkative starling
Who imitates a car alarm, saying thereby that the world is delusion
And the Holocaust merely a contusion.
Broadways is kneeling next to my building. Christ
Mounts the ass to go into town.
Guatama is teaching on 79th at the corner.
Mohammed rides through Harlem in a white convertible with the top down.
God the stallion and God the gelding is sliced
Into bite-sized portions, they put out a contract on him, iced,
Into the river in cement shoes, ends up at the coroner
Astronomer who is looking for complicity,
For sympathetic understanding from a universe
Turning violently into verse.
A poem should not mean but be.
My poems have the cedar simplicity
Of a shoe tree.
Picture me in front of the TV
Staring at a mirage.
The events of the week in the world break the flat-screen surface like fish.
They are caught and cleaned and cooked and given a massage.
I’m climbing the dunes of the Sahara with a mermaid swimming toward me
Talking away, as if she were afraid she’d already bored me.
I hear her empathetic politics, spoken in English English,
Part of the TV panel of pundits in Washington, D.C., on this Palm Sunday.
When I escape to this window for a moment to breathe New York,
Something white is flying through the sky that is not a stork.
I think about the people who have died and are dead.
I don’t think they have gone somewhere else instead.
I don’t think I will see them again one day.
I don’t think China will overtake the U.S. before Monday.
Harper’s Magazine, August 2012