Men of Old Europe

Barry Seiler


Turhan Bey is dead. In Vienna.

Wasn’t he from the East?

India? Arabia? My error.

He was another man of old Europe.

Perhaps it was the mustache,

Some exotic something or other.

Call him suave. Put a fez on him,

He would be right at home.

After the war that mysterious grace

Vanished from the screen.

It was a time of harder edges,

My cousin Seymour resembled him:

Mustached, swarthy, slightly other.

The family chipped in and delivered him

And his bride from the camps.

He enchanted me. He could pull a dime

From behind my ear, offer me

A fanned deck and say in his elegant accent:

Pick a card, Barry. He had the knack

Of knowing exactly when to pull

A Benson and Hedges  kingsize

From his shirt pocket and in one

Dazzling motion leap across the room,

The flame dancing up from his

Gold cigarette lighter; and before

My father could wave him off the smoke

Rose toward the ceiling and vanished

Into the very air we breathed.


Barry Seiler is the author of four volumes of poetry: Retaining Wall, The Waters of Forgetting, Black Leaf and Frozen Falls. His most recent book, Frozen Falls, published in 2001 by the University of Akron Press,was a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize. He lives in the Catskills in a small town.



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