James Schuyler
Letter Poem to Kenneth Koch

Dear Thunderbird,

Letters should he confidential but I’ve no confidences

so might as well write you a poem in the new form

only the initiate can tell from prose. Hello.

Hello Kenneth. Hello Janice. Hello Katherine. So you can scream like

power brakes. I hear from the Moustache by way of Jane. Grand.

It’s “fragrant May” (Leopardi)

(I’m typing in a pool of my own sweat)

and New York is blindingly beautiful

thanks to the aluminum people

who are not cast of Canadian metal - they have weekend

sunburns and suits bluer than heaven you can wash in the sink

yourself, even as you and I. What they got

we haven’t got is a lot of aluminum.

You run up some beams and snap

the aluminum whosies into place

and glass - sparkle! toward sundown

going east you have to walk horizontal. Except

the House of Seagram, austere and smoky

as a molten topaz. And now for personalities on parade,

while vending Picasso catalogues at MOMA

-that haven of have-not poets - I heard a guard say.

Found In Volume 39, No. 01
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James Schuyler
About the Author

Early in his life, James Schuyler rented a room from W.H. Auden and worked as his secretary.  Later, Schuyler moved in with Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery, and became involved with the New York School of poets.  In addition to writing poetry, Schuyler was a well-regarded art critic and worked as a curator at the Museum of Modern Art.  His last books were Selected Poems (1988), A Few Days (1985), and The Morning of the Poem (1980), which won the Pulitzer Prize.  He lived in New York City until his death in 1991.