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Where the Santa Ana Freeway inherits the Long Beach

Three poems by Patty Seyburn

Patty Seyburn: currently, her favorite words are “cruller” and “compote”
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.”

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Patty Seyburn: currently, her favorite words are “cruller” and “compote”
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.”

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