I Ride an Old Paint

Frederick Seidel

My silly body fell down a set of stairs.My big body doesn't always know who I am.Doesn't recognize who it's with or how or why.My silly body isn't always my buddy.It doesn't always know where it is.It fell down a flight of stairs.It doesn't always know who's the boss.It's like having your horse shot out from under youWhile you're on your way to compete at the rodeo.Are you the boss or the horse?Life is always on the way to the rodeoAnd suddenly your horse, Old Paint, ain'tUnder you no more, cowboy, and you're on a gurneyAt Greenport Hospital on your way to being X-rayed,A hospital famous for its incompetenceBut also for how pleasant the Emergency Room staff is.Your body is a bag of love you walk around in.My body turned the wrong way and stepped into thin air.It could have died, with me on top of it in the crew compartment.I'm in the cockpit on top of the rocket.I can see a smudge of darkness in the distanceWhich is a thunderstorm out over Long Island Sound.I am alone with myself in my helmet of bone,Checking for messages on my iPhone.Now I will go back to going from here to there.Wish me a safe journey with a nodule on one lungDiscovered in the X-ray after my body fell down.Reader, I am the words that you are reading.Reader, when I have long since ceased to existI will be looking at you while you read this.I am the enormous, extremeSmile of summer rain.

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Frederick Seidel’s many books of poems include The Cosmos Trilogy, Ooga-Booga, Poems 1959–2009, Nice Weather, and Widening Income Inequality, all published by FSG.

Peaches Goes It Alone, Frederick Seidel’s newest collection of poems, begins with global warming and ends with Aphrodite. In between is everything. Peaches Goes It Alone presents the sexual and political themes that have long preoccupied Seidel—and thrilled and offended his readers. Lyrical, grotesque, and elegiac, Peaches Goes It Alone adds new music and menace to Seidel’s masterful body of work.

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