Diane Seuss

My first night in New York 

  • My first night in New York I was such a beautiful
  • dick, my soul circumcised, no shielding foreskin,
  • wearing some sort of leotard thing and gold fabric
  • safety pinned around my waist as a skirt, I'd pierced
  • one of my ears with a darning needle, ice cube
  • to numb it, to hurt: the only verb I knew, stabbed
  • through that ear hole a gold safety pin, the kind girls
  • back then wore on pleated skirts, and K that first night,
  • his robe an evil green, his unacceptable glamorous
  • nose, eye-holes as if precisely cut from his face with
  • a utility knife to exhibit the dangerous spectacle at play
  • inside his skull, Roland Barthes: "I cannot get over
  • having had this good fortune: to meet what matches my
  • desire," and, I would add, he who would slaughter me.


I want drugs again; whimsy

  • I want drugs again; whimsy. Frenzy, hilarity, as when
  • visiting mass with Juanita, we were twelve, I wasn't
  • Catholic, laughing ourselves sick at the names of saints,
  • Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, sparks went off in my
  • brain, I had no squeamishness, I'd eat alligator, rabbit
  • with the head on, fish eggs, eyes, hitchhike playing
  • the harmonica, got into a helluva jam, sitting in the cab
  • of a truck between two nasty bumpkins, saved when
  • a turkey vulture crashed through the windshield into
  • my lap, Jesus was looking out for me that day, celebrated
  • not being murdered at a bar that rose out of the fog
  • like an iceberg, I was wearing a stolen blue smoking
  • jacket I called a kimono, yes I was a knave, a fool,
  • (Cornelius, Cyprian, Chrysogonus, Cosmas and Damian).

My tits are bruised as if I've been with a rough lover

  • My tits are bruised as if I've been with a rough lover but I have
  • not been, not today, I once gentled a certain someone and it turns
  • out I loathe gentle, and bought a hard red pear, hard enough
  • to pound a nail into a re-enactment crucifix, and I left the hard pear,
  • I mean dick-hard, on the red windowsill, abandoned it to its solo
  • ripening until it began to exude that familiar musk, it might as well
  • have said eat me, or sung it soprano, but the more it wanted my
  • teeth in its hide the more I dodged it, I'd lost all respect for it,
  • like that poem in which ripening plums are evidence that eternity
  • is illogical, well of course it's illogical, and by the time I decided
  • to just go ahead and dive it had broken out with a bad case of fruit
  • flies, my fault indeed but I blamed the pear, let's all blame the pear,
  • this is not a metaphor but a fable whose moral is as old as time:
  • I'm worried about these bruises and who will hold me when I die?


I dreamed a color, no plot, a color, strange

  • I dreamed a color, no plot, a color, strange, there once
  • were shoes called oxblood, the color was akin to oxblood
  • baby shoes but not that exactly, nor calves' liver, though
  • closer to liver than heart, nor that girl with oxblood hair,
  • nor mahogany, fuck mahogany, I fell once, walking on the rocks
  • along a jade lake, the cut was small but deep and mean, my
  • blood, magenta edged in something the color of antifreeze,
  • an unthinkable yellow-green, bioluminescent though not like
  • a glowworm, fuck glowworms, they lean toward the false indigo
  • of cheap lit-up wristwatches, maybe a certain bunch of gladiolas
  • delivered to my studio apartment by Mikel, who opened
  • my honey jar and licked all the way around its mouth, fuck that, it
  • incensed me, the color some combination of glads, honey, tongue,
  • rage, and Mikel, dead so long, the Kaposi's lesion on his thumb.

I could do it. I could walk into the sea!

  • I could do it. I could walk into the sea!
  • I have a rental car. It's blue and low on fuel.
  • I have feet, two, and proximity. I could do it.
  • Others have before me. Jeff Buckley (1997) he
  • was only 40. Carol Wayne (1985) Matinee Lady
  • and a photo spread in Playboy. Dennis Wilson (1983)
  • after diving for a photo of his ex-wife he'd tossed
  • overboard years earlier. Hart Crane, well of course
  • Hart Crane (1932), socialite Starr Faithful (1931),
  • she was only 25, she drowned in shallow water near
  • the shore, her lungs all full of sand. Starr left behind her
  • sex diary, current whereabouts unknown. 19 men.
  • It's dark. I love the dark and it loves me.
  • It would be fun! I could walk into the sea!


Author Bio

Diane Seuss's most recent collection, Four-Legged Girl, published in 2015 by Graywolf Press, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open won the Juniper Prize and was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 2010. Her poetry has been published in a broad range of literary magazines, including American Poetry Review, Poetry, The Iowa Review, New England Review, and The New Yorker. Seuss's fourth collection, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in May 2018.