Appetite of a Dead Connoisseur
by Julie Bolt



Memory:
When I was nine I rang Seymour Britchky's
downstairs apartment asking for
an egg. He retorted:
"Egg? Me?
Food critic for The New York Times?"
and turned brusquely, slamming the door.
I stood there stunned for minutes.

Fact:
My husband is frustrated
by my ongoing predilection for ordering
and eating out, much like Seymour Britchky;
I never have an egg.

Fact:
Seymour once wrote,
"Sardi's most famous dish
Is its cannelloni,
Cat food wrapped in noodle
And welded to the steel ashtray
In which it was reheated under
Its glutinous pink sauce."

Memory:
When I sold Girl Scout Cookies,
Seymour intently purchased
six boxes of Thin Mints
and fourteen Peanut Butter Patties.
I met my Girl Scout goals.

Reflection:
Beard and bowtie,
Belly bordering on the rotund.
But only bordering, since Seymour
walked, walked everywhere, swiftly.

Memory:
Seymour sneered at my friends
hanging on our Greenwich Village stoop.
With tallboys, hidden joints, and bad posture.
He seethed to my mother: they are thugs.
Embarrassed, she tried to shoo them away.
Did they not know we were hungry and hopeful?

Factoidal Evidence:
1) In New York Seymour was known for:
a) Literary flourish and acerbic wit
b) Pissing off chefs
c) Really, really pissing off chefs
2) In June 2004, Seymour died of pancreatic cancer at age 73.
3) Despite his constant presence on paper, in the city streets, and his name clearly placed in our building directory, Town Hall has no record of any persons in New York by the name of Seymour Britchky.

Reflections:
I'm back to my vacant childhood home
after a decade of desert, ocean, mountain, sky.
Back to the simmering souring city I love;
I expected to see Seymour weaving through streets
Sneering and smiling; greeting, rebuking
Because he is this building, this block,
All the contradictions of this place.

Memory:
Seymour beamed each time
he passed our sheltie, Skippy.
On those rare days, he greeted us:
"Flight of angels!"

Defense
Seymour's dead and so is my youth
But oh we are both hungry, greedy, hungry
For words, brioche, provocations, trout almondine
Cruelty and soufflé aux fruits de mer,
Peanut butter patties and beauty
Angels in the form of smiling dogs
Hungry for roast squab and squabbling
Greedy for the name in print
Even when it?s a pseudonym and upon death
There?s no proof of existence, only footprints
From Mojave to Café Loup on West 13th
Where I just passed, and Seymour Britchky,
or whatever his name was, often drank alone.







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