Where the Santa Ana Freeway inherits the Long Beach
Three poems by Patty Seyburn
Patty Seyburn: currently, her favorite words are “cruller” and “compote”
Ode to My Grecian Urns
- Fake, faux, ersatz and what’s more, there are two
- of them. Keats said the sonnet wouldn’t do.
- Wrong tone. No Pindarics — not the right form
- for philosophy. The poem must transform
- the art, ekphrastic creed. Mine would require
- some spell or wand or sleight of hand, dire
- magic. Both claret with a vine. Mouth, bronze.
- One flared at the top, slim neck like a swan’s,
- tall and narrow. The other wide and low,
- built-in handles. From not-so-long ago,
- some California school, copies to the core.
- One, a column-crater; one amphora —
- Not ancient Greek. Can everything inspire?
- Yes, wrote C. Rossetti: a flint holds fire.
At King Taco
- Where the Santa Ana Freeway (the 5)
- inherits the Long Beach (the 710)
- and I wonder if I’ll ever arrive
- while Herbie Mann notches the bedpost of jazz
- with a flute on station KLON.
- Yea, Lord, having driven through the chasm
- of the valley of the shadow not of
- death fearing no evil but oblivion,
- I hear “why are you so mean to me,” rubato.
- The alternative to sex songs are love-
- songs on mainstream frequencies, and my mien
- turns upbeat to match the freeway’s motto:
- all wounds healed by a vehicle and speed.
- (Save those caused when leaving is the deed.)
In My Land: we have
- artisanal danish. The quality
- of light a cross between Biarritz and
- the perishables room at Costco.
- The Sunset Psychic. My favorite cousin
- (almost a sister) (we always forgive).
- Brow bars. The Santa Ana riverbed
- trail. Newport Dunes. Madame Helena
- Modjeska. (Modrzejewka.) Second wishes.
- When they turned the country on its side, I
- was watching Lucy. I rolled into the
- sea, but am shaped like a surfboard. The berm
- found me. Since then I have become a Hass
- avocado, an orange, a clove of
- garlic. A strawberry. Second wishes.
Patty Seyburn has published four books of poems: Perfecta (What Books Press, 2014), Hilarity (New Issues Press, 2009), Mechanical Cluster (Ohio State University Press, 2002), and Diasporadic (Helicon Nine Editions, 1998). She is a professor at California State University, Long Beach, and co-editor of POOL: A Journal of Poetry (poolpoetry.com). Currently, her favorite words are “cruller” and “compote.”