I’m aging very slowly, because every part of me
is already dead. I spent years in the Arctic,
eating seal fat and things better left unnamed, but now
I’ve got money, and a condo on the West Side.
I smell like formaldehyde, my teeth are grimy,
my limbs mismatched, but I’m happy in this place
where I’m one more person with panache
and an ugly face. I eat well. I can walk the bridge
Hart Crane walked, or get drunk
and not conceal it. I’m not Boris Karloff, lurching
around, a mute—I hate that guy;
I get laid. Here, people suffer without believing
that every stranger should have to feel it.
The other day I walked from Cleopatra’s Needle
to the far side of the Harlem Meer, thinking
about the Rockefeller Center, and the gigantic
armillary sphere balanced on the shoulders
of the Atlas statue there. My pants
are fitted. My beret advances everywhere
like a prow. My name isn’t Frankenstein.
Frankenstein was my inventor.
James Arthur was born in Connecticut and grew up in Canada. He is the author of the poetry collection The Suicide’s Son (Véhicule Press 2019) and Charms Against Lightning (Copper Canyon Press 2012). Arthur’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The New York Review of Books, and The London Review of Books. He has received the Amy Lowell Travelling Poetry Scholarship, a Hodder Fellowship, a Stegner Fellowship, a Discovery/The Nation Prize, a Fulbright Scholarship to Northern Ireland, and a visiting fellowship at Exeter College, Oxford. He teaches at Johns Hopkins University.