Andy Warhol Exhibit at the Whitney
January 17th, 1998
Shall we say that it's great?
Let's say it's great.
As a blackberry falls
Off the edge of a cliff
At the end of a long road
By the city in a cloud
You may hear a soft whir
That you think not of twice
But if you desire to listen to it
Instead it’s a voice, strong and clear
A mother wrapping her newborn
In sheets of fine linen
The needle and thread sewing
The dress of bright red
And the unfathomable excitement
Of the white gown strolling down
Down the red carpet
The happiness and sorrow
The love and the joy
From the first lick of air
To the last peaceful breath
Is the magnificent journey
To the city in the clouds
Where we will all go
To watch the blackberries grow
—Spencer Watson Seupel (1990-2012)
Spencer wrote this poem when he was 14.
Consider the heat off our bodies—
that which comes from the body
but is no longer the body itself.
A conjuring, an illusion
My touch, not to be held.
The last, my fingertips
On the crest of your shoulders.
Here, in the hour before trees
abandon camouflage and begin
to reassemble lines and edges
to reflect a slumming sun,
it is true
that bodies at rest
to stay at rest
upon by an outside
Here, above a young hawk's flight
where atmosphere begins to tear
along the line between fur speck
and the gliding, hungry eye
it is true
that bodies in motion
to stay in motion
upon by an outside
Here, under faltering light
where the only sound leaks from glass
forced to bear the image
of our tedious approach and retreat
it is true
that motions in bodies
to stay at rest
out upon an outside
for Pauline Uchmanowicz
The lap pool glistens aqua
Red and white race pennants,
Floats. It's summer in America.
Chlorine, lotion, shouts of Marco
Polo, splash and sink.
Bored teen lifeguard, spandexed mothers,
Sun-shrunk crones, that one
Strutting stud (there's always one).
Life, life, and so much life!
And you have left it. Water chokes.
I flip my body, dead man's float.
An underwater heartbeat thrums my ears.
I can't imagine you not running
Past. Cape Cod, salt water,
Words and worlds flow through me,
Yours. A chair, abandoned.
we were crossing the muddy delta
between Argentina and Uruguay
when you left your body
the girls perched in one of
the ferry's window wells
scanning the choppy horizon
people gather around the dying
the way we encircle newborns
with wonder and love and trembling
the layers of daily life
offered up like smoke
we find ourselves upside down
in a new and strange land
i am on the phone with your
daughter and granddaughter
looking up at alien constellations
recalling your twinkle and
the personal finger wiggle wave
that made us all feel special
a star streaks across the sky
as if moved by an unseen finger
the next morning, we watch a troop of
hundreds of yellow butterflies
drift across the grass
towards the beach
in the afternoon, your
play in the sand
the sun sliding
under the water
i feel you in their hearts
in all of our hearts
always the source and the center
even as you reach that
There Are Always Poems
Even on difficult days when
a close friend dies Things Happen
the way they do because life is when
Things Happen snow and
a strange woman falls then she gets up
we help get up she walks away
I go to the library to get
More Books always More Books
reading small miracle of life
reading has always saved me because
No Matter What life is stories. Even poems.
Remembering Something from Childhood
Out of the past, whatever
was remembered earlier,
now forgotten, little thing
briefly recalled, but,
seemingly so significant,
certain to be remembered
later, old memory
—Matthew J. Spireng
Across the Street From Where I Live
Near the water; there. It's the river.
Earth's liquid veins. Bloodlines spring and sponge
Through fabled rills, whose source seems blessed far
Away, God, as these streaming thoughts
Build me bold as banks, bayous, bodies
Of water, whose equations are known
To equal one, just one; all for one.
Shadows river green. Shining rocks clack.
This river is not for touching. Things
It cannot do: it cannot sustain life.
We know now. We're knowing memories.
G.E. flushes through me; forgiving.
I am not poison. I pray. The river sings
As ever, and ever brings me here.
We wonder in color. Polished stones
Make waves. Sometimes, it is ducks aligned.
Look, generations! Right? Call delight
Here, on the way to understanding.
Whatever this is dances about
Bird's swoop and our river's distance.
Relations plait; physics plays in kind.
Birdsong tinsels our burbling current.
This tree, young as she is, sees a fish
On hind legs; studies roots exposed.
Leaves natter. A trim of trees garden.
Earth gives a lawn's eye look at pavement.
Everything appears breathing; still
Held, touched. Hey. On my way. Home soon.
—Jeffrey van de Visse
The Slick Slope
My husband signs us up for Ski Patrol
(without telling me)
and I find myself
learning CPR and to backboard head injuries.
I study snow conditions:
black ice, powder, Sierra cement, the danger
of tree wells.
Our children join us on their diminutive skis.
My husband is too fast for us
and we can never keep up. I stay with the kids
and he shushes off
to the black diamond run.
There goes their father zig-zagging
down the fault line,
not a care in creation it seems.
I’m only on Ski Patrol in name. I mostly rescue
the family. I help behind the scenes.
I’m not out there in front risking.
I never know when
I could take a spill.
The Empty Glass
I’ll pour myself a drink tonight,
while out of sight—a champagne clink
to think of you and everywhere you’ve gone.
The droplets on my water glass
will make up the moments passed,
and glue together every smashed open bottle of wine.
I seem forever doomed to spill,
on the rocks at midnight talks and still
I find it hard to walk and your soul hard to fill.
the hummingbirds left
all the faded dead flowers
and winter for me
grape seed oil
reminds me of my mom
she would always tell me
to rub it on something
but i can't remember if it was a burn or a cut
or maybe a blister or dry skin
i miss her
Second Warning to a Young Poet
When you read the words of others that are better than your words,
and that you know in your mind of minds, are better,
you will know jealousy, envy and spite.
They will churn in the pit of your stomach,
and you will want to bring up jealousy, envy and spite
like phlegm and spit jealousy, envy and spite
into the faces of everyone you meet.
You will want to stop your own words from coming.
You will want to bury yourself in the earth.
You will want to crawl on your belly on the ground
and crawl into a dark fissure deep in the earth.
You will want to jump into the sea, from the stern of a ship, in the fog.
You will want to shave your head down to skin.
You will want to rend your favorite blue shirt.
You will want to cut off your right thumb.
You will want to drink cheap red wine until it gurgles back up into your throat.
You will want to curse the moon when it is full and when it is gone.
You will write the first of many poems about writing your last poem.
You will want to be martyred, shot through and through with pens.
You will want to take up golf.
He sits with the heat on and the windows open.
He smokes the pluming black wind of depression.
He drinks the poisoned oceans of regret.
She carries the stale fragments of hope.
She dances with hells of unintentional grief-stricken compassion.
She bears the weight of cosmic creation.
They follow the figurine ideals of freedom.
They anguish through the leap.
They love throughout within the onslaught of fear.