The State of New York

By Frederick Seidel b. 1936 Frederick Seidel
I like the part I play.
They’ve cast me as Pompeii
The day before the day.
It’s my brilliant performance as a luxury man because I act that way.
They say: Just wait, you’ll see, you’ll pay,

You’re a miracle in a whirlpool
In your blind date’s vagina
At your age. Nothin could be fina.
You eat off her bone china.
Don’t be a ghoul. Don’t be a fool,
You fool.

In the lifelong month of May,
Racing joyously on his moto poeta to the grave,
He’s his own fabulous slave.
He rides his superbike faster and faster to save
His master from the coming lava from China, every day,
But especially today, because it’s on its way.

Fred Astaire is about to explode
In his buff-colored kidskin gloves, revolving around
The gold knob of his walking stick, with the sound
Of Vesuvia playing,
And the slopes of Vesuvia saying
Her effluvia are in nearly overflowing mode.

Freud had predicted Fred.
In The Future of an Illusion he said:
“Movies are, in other words, the future of God.”
Nothing expresses ordinary wishes more dysplastically than current
American politics do. Breast augmentation as a deterrent
To too much government is odd.

Korean women in a shop on Madison give a pedicure to Pompeii.
Fred only knows that he’s not getting old.
Pompeii doesn’t know it’s the day before the day.
The governor of New York is legally blind, a metaphor for his state of mind.
He ought to resign, but he hasn’t resigned.
Good riddance, goodbye. The bell has tolled.

Source: Poetry (September 2012).


This poem originally appeared in the September 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2012
 Frederick  Seidel


Frederick Seidel has been called “the poet the twentieth century deserved” and lauded as one of “the best poets writing today”; he has also been accused of writing “sinister” and “disturbing” poetry. Ange Mlinko, in the Nation, described his work as employing “the prosody of atrocity.” Such divisive reactions have followed Seidel from the beginning: his first book, Final Solutions (1963), was chosen by Robert Lowell, Louise . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, History & Politics, Popular Culture

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Confessional

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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