Look to the Side
Tonight in the taxi I picked up two women at Bellevue just after their friend died in an accident. He was skateboarding and hitched a ride on the passenger side of a garbage truck and lost his balance when the truck changed lanes. He was crushed by the rear tires.
There were no heroes and no monsters, and there was silence. They loved him, and they wanted something else, and they wanted cigarettes.
I imagined some vibrations, the outlines of bones—dark things—the way the song moves. The last kind words I could think of were take care, but they were inadequate, and the shadows kicked over the wind’s cathedral.
“Look to the Side” from TODAY IN THE TAXI by Sean Singer.
Published by Tupelo Press on April 1, 2022.
Copyright © 2022 by Sean Singer.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Sean Singer is the author of Discography (Yale University Press, 2002), winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, selected by W.S. Merwin, and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America; Honey & Smoke (Eyewear Publishing, 2015); and Today in the Taxi (Tupelo Press, 2022). He runs a manuscript consultation service at www.seansingerpoetry.com.
"Sean Singer’s radiant and challenging body of work involves, much like Whitman’s, nothing less than the ongoing interrogation of what a poem is. In this way his books are startlingly alive… I love in this work the sense that I am the grateful recipient of Singer’s jazzy curation as I move from page to page. Today in the Taxi is threaded through with quotes from Kafka, facts about jazz musicians, musings from various thinkers, from a Cathar fragment to Martin Buber to Arthur Eddington to an anonymous comedian. The taxi is at once a real taxi and the microcosm of a world—at times the speaker seems almost like Charon ferrying his passengers, as the nameless from all walks and stages of life step in and out his taxi. I am reminded of Calvino’s Invisible Cities, of Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn… Today in the Taxi is intricate, plain, suggestive, deeply respectful of the reader, and utterly absorbing. Like Honey and Smoke before it, which was one of the best poetry books of the last decade, this is work of the highest order."
"Today in the Taxi makes for a terrific intellectual and spiritual companion. A must-read for poetry lovers, this book is also a game changer for prose poetry."
"Laced within each fare is an illumination of humanity’s intimate music, of the poet’s inner journey—a signaling at each crossroad of our frailty and effervescence."