Friday, October 2, 2020

Selected Works, Anthony Seidman


The Mystery of Stolen Fruit


The man with deep pockets

has a heart which

crumples like newspaper.

His boots crack ice even

when his neighbors sleep on

their porches, and heat licks

the avenue with tar, smoking.

Each of his eyes,

compressed into coal,

while the wine in his veins

hardens into rope which he

fashions into a noose.

He no longer sees

the streets for its trees and

billboards promoting

mouthwash.  He witnesses

a murder in some parallel

tableau where a yellow

glove nailed on stallion’s haunch is

the sole evidence.

His fingers search his pockets

for the key that might

open the door of smoke;

he fumbles for a thread

to pull and undo the seams.  Until then,

a coolant the blue

of crushed water inoculates

night under his skin; slow

rain needles shut his eyes,

and a loaf of bread

grows stale by

hooves of the perennial goat.

The Fifth Chamber Which Isn’t Within Him, But All Around


The man who listens to rain

opens his word like an umbrella, and inch

by inch, his slippers, knees, the top-

most hairs on his scalp

meld with shadow, dissipate like

smoke into smoke, or the prayer

of one mother amid the bell-clangs and

shrieks of a sinking ocean liner.


His heart has four chambers:

The First, a terrace with wasps

churring around a fruit bowl

of guava, mango, and peach atop

a wrought-iron garden table painted red.

The Second is locked shut.  Chamber

number Three echoes with a dog

jaw-cracking a bone.  The Fourth

is where he sits on chair

in room with etiolated walls

beside unmade bed in which

he hasn’t slept for years.

                                                Because he doesn’t thirst

the deserts where camels litter

droppings the texture and length of eggplants.

He doesn’t peel nipples from a woman’s breasts.

He doesn’t open sealed envelopes slipped

between scales of the Cobra.

What he listens for is more patient

than half-life of Carbon: a sound

like sigh unraveled from a caterpillar’s fangs.

The pause between drops of rain,

sizzle of hot oil, a static which

crackles in air and opens door between

lightning and the breath it

takes to funnel this message

through the labyrinth of a sponge.



Hyena is talking to me

He’s praising the whiteness of bone

Not feathers or carrion scattered beside thorns

but stark & brittle savanna bone


I give him a coin and explain how

its value as ferry’s toll relies on

the progress of beetles digging

into black soil so that

they reach the chipped tooth of the first Word before

blaze of Dog-Days


Hyena thanks me

in perfunctory manner before

scurrying from dark wind


After a week of wandering

I arrive at the skull of a gazelle who warns me

about Hyena staining  his muzzle with flesh and steaming entrails while

vultures inscribe their circles in the blue heat above

the stiffening lemon grass



I offer the gazelle’s skull my blessings

alluding to the interstices between Divine & Human Meat

as according to the quill of Saint Maximus


After month or lifetime

of searching I am facing Hyena once more


Hyena’s not as loquacious and has forgotten how to cackle and yip


Savanna has been seared into desert


All is still


The dunes are penny-blond and the sky’s an azure which would shatter ice

if there were ice to shatter among these sands


In my saddlebag I’ve a bottle and hunk of bread

though I’ve never galloped astride stallion or mare


Black bread snatched from clay oven and

purple wine from the same press and den where I shared sleep

with a woman whose eyes shimmered like silvery fish and whose

thighs both flitted from and welcomed my grip


I remember her language!

(Full of diphthongs, lizards, hammocks and laze at noon!)


I break bread with Hyena

and drink my wine savoring the taste of twilight

as purple as this evening season


It is this desert I shall call home I say and Hyena

with tongue as purple as richest wine


licks my face tastes my face and

lets cool my words on his palate of ambuscade and chase


then recognizes me as the Saint whom

he had tested


and now obeys as heat does the staunchest carbonization

Birth, After-Birth or Burial as Springtime


You can choose                    yet some things prevail:

octopus remains  six arms & two legs,

cockroaches have already won, cashing

in lottery tickets of grime,  protein, edible asbestos,

pistols, loaded with dice and shrimp cocktails,

mug elevators that descend & ascend endlessly,

every shovel digs up bones,

stones prove sturdy roofs for scorpions

while hummingbirds

have barfed the algebra of pollen.


            doors are busted the locks are picked and parrots crash-land

            while the weakest denizens,

            purple eyeballs caked with rheum, they genuflect and

            kneel before the tinsel bull…and yet


                               the bull’s blind, deaf and rapacious.



                        let inside you the accordions and the esplanade,

                        hear music scratching from the

                        guitar of the corner troubadour for he’s

                                    Marcabru’s great-great-greatest grandson

and he knows

                       the gig’s shot ….


Tune in to:

                      still functioning gall-bladder and alternator,

                      the impossible-to-deter mosquito and lunar sweat,   

                      and baculum in the erect and giddy remaining blue whales,

                      and some wind when necessary (especially at

                      noon and beneath the Oaks speaking dialects of Autumn )     .


             I still see you / I taste you

                                            (so tart so bloody real)

in the individual tear you

shed just for me and housed in the corner of your pocket knife . 

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