Issue > Poetry
Sebastian Agudelo

Sebastian Agudelo

Sebastian Agudelo is the author of two books of poetry, Each Chartered Street and To the Bone, which was selected by Mark Doty as the winner of the 2008 Saturnalia Book Prize. His poems have appeared in The Nation, Antioch Review, The Manchester Review, Boston Review Online and At Length Magazine among others.


Like Bartok in the Balkans
with his wire machine
recording it all,
the landlocked yokels' lullaby,
Székeley tunes in Czík,
their vocal slides,
a shepherd's old church hymn,
the swineherd's ditty.
His longhand transcripts
don't miss a thing either,
pitch inflections, rhythmic tics,
reconstructing mother's keening,
excavating gunslinger's boast.
In the gamecock and fog
tracts where empires
grind down to a meal,
the pipes and drums
are a press gang's tune,
the czardas fiddle rancor,
of the sort that
makes his music what it is:
simple melodies really
that in a hiccup show horn hilt,
brass pommel, the dagger in the dance.

YouTube Poem

My ten year old is not listening
the baroque high-sass, its gobby fiorituras.
Madeleine is going on about the hair,
a clip-on, a weave, a wig, it can't be hers,
the tangled beehive, its cocktail umbrellas.
Then it's Cynthia, and the "Daddy's girl" tat,
the horseshoe and the topless pinup.
Those A-side, boy-crush, billets doux
tempered, you'd think, by third-wave women's lib
or what it left the public housing gum-molls
loitering around skate parks smoking,
my daughter is not listening.
I skip the ring-side, lurid clips
the fall in Recife, the booing in Belgrade
do Gastonbury, Somerset house, BBC instead.
She's in an orange say crouching for a sip.
Madeleine wants to know what's in the cup.
I nudge her to the screen, it's the one where snare
yields to bass drum and she mumbles
an homage to the Shangri-Las
before her chorus boys pick it up
scup back and forth kicking thin air.
Now it's décolletage Madeleine cares about
since she's spilling out of some tartan top
or will do a runabout on stage
to pull herself back in a pailleted strapless thing,
jokes how long it takes to get a dress on
how quickly it comes off and moves on to some ska.
Kid won't listen. She's deciphering
the pop-up banner for a twelve-step program
to the mewls, scats, falsettos,
a mannerist one-night stand, then the rehab song.


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