Featured Poet
James Reidel
James Reidel
TAR
My Window Seat for Arlena Twigg
Dugong
The Sea Lot
Reading Trakl in a Room Lit by Television
Mermaid
Hymn to Demeter
Dies Erae
Kitsch
Homage to Ralph Blakelock
The Reunioneer
MY WINDOW SEAT FOR ARLENA TWIGG

Under the domes of new gallerias
That worry-bead the old orange groves,
"Whose little girl are you?"
Kind strangers would ask
If you stepped from the wishing fountain --
The question the way it was meant to be.

Your place at the table lasted no longer
Than the landing lights of snowbirds flashing
in the night.
We should give your name to those stars,
For they always come back.
We should always think to your day on the
stand,
When your brushing back a stray hair
Parts lawyers and horns,
With a motion that wanted to be

The small wave to the twin we always wish for,
The one we always knew we had.


James Reidel



DUGONG

His love handled wake no longer laps
The side of the tub. His chinos
Snap in the wind like flags.
The diet worked. He sees himself again
Playing with the fish in the sea.
The fat years were from 30-something
A gravidness in which his wife arched
And made him pregnant back
With his image both carried,
A fetal him (who could have been played
By Sabu, bare-chested, a monkey's vest),
A gleam in the eye, which he sucked in
And thought never showed
As the tuck and roll of trimesters
Came in whale years,
As he held his breath
To nuzzle her sea grass sex,
As all mirrors billowed like sails,
Showing what curled around his waist,
The worm of the very devil
Who came during the night,
Who landed on a flower
As lightly as a girl's own hand.


James Reidel




THE SEA LOT

The braid of tow rope from a boogie board
Left by high tide,

The Velcro strap biting itself in death --

We need a president who will bring back
snow
Or we'll keep seeing these things:

The red flag in the wind from the north,
The thirty pieces in mussel shells

Heads-and-tailing in the surf,

The sandpit flooding under the beach bucket
martello,
Some sea glass, some milk bottle,

Half the dairy's name ('ERMAN)
Spelled so smooth had there been an emperor
to put out my eyes,

I would hold the cameo of his sisters as Graces.


James Reidel





READING TRAKL IN A ROOM LIT BY TELEVISION

A canon scannable as a German woodcut,
A canon like a rib cage shot through with grass

And simply read,

A child's ruler clattering over shadows and painted
bones,
A figure of speech for our leisure:

It is waiting in the downtime of a whore.
Soon someone will want you.

And when no one wants you there is time
Here, now in a bedroom community

Lit by masts of red lights.

There is the play of light,
The St. Elmo's fire of his radiant sister

Burning in the branches of pines,
Who did not live long without him

Breathing "sister" into the lamps
Between his darker lines,

And the brother in a silver boat,
Who crosses Galicia on the black water of soil
unearthed by guns.

You can read him in the minutes before sleep
takes you
And you cannot read to him, for good.

The picture tube flashes on the wall.
It cannot see itself. It cannot stop.


James Reidel




MERMAID

For three days tremors,
Sightings of plumes of smoke on the sea

And strange geysers.

The twin has surfaced
As if hidden under its brother's cloak.

Then the fishing fleet brings news
Of unbearable heat, of hot, coarse sand;

Its landing party
Must be borne back on litters

And the bare feet of the sailors dangle
And seem beaten with sticks.

A new island treads water offshore,
Far from the fatigue of the sensible explanation,

An island at the ideal distance
For staging water music,

Where the cellist's legs would part
Around the waist of her instrument

And press it with the same force
It takes to cover one's ears from the hiss of steam,

The rolling of the Richter scale.


James Reidel



HYMN TO DEMETER

As Sam's Club diet cola turns my gum hard,
So the faithful nursed on the last of the corn.

The fine scoring of loaves made from sandstorms
that crossed the sea,
Teeth in a museum drawer --

I feel the cold time in my mouthful of pitted dice
Chewed pegwise in my jaw,

Sugarless gum milling to an unholding patch

-- and where ears no more brush bare thighs
With a daughter's wheat hair,

I have snowless winters, brown grass.

I see her shaved head in hell everywhere
From the hollows of eyes with the same curse-

The same cup size when she slipped into the earth.


James Reidel



DIES IRAE

. . . the whole land shall be devoured by the fire . . .

-- Zeph. 1:18

On that day the Camay Venus will rise
Between my legs to suckle me
With her soap-carved breasts.
The Andrea Doria will be raised
For the Boatman to give more
Than a gondola ride. On that day
Our dead loved ones step from the icebox,
Attracted to the light.
Each will hold the white door
For the other
-- and take only cocktail onions
For their hunger.
When they search Jerusalem with candles,
Their broth-yellow flesh will soften
Some of their blows and paper
The cheeks of their grinding smiles.
On that day I'll let the water run
As if every floor were ablaze,
And the Sandman will dive
From his war canoe,
Back for a dream that grows
As big and black as a relic toe.


James Reidel



KITSCH

Rain falls on the carnival grounds.

Motionless rides
Loop the gray sky with painted iron and height

That would impress Paris a hundred years ago,

And they keep to themselves what death is like
When the soul leaves the body.

No one will make their money.

With the flat of his hand,
A drunken man pushes the brake lever of his wife's
leg

In the trailer filled with the sound of the rain.

Where is everyone? Far to the south,
In one of the casinos, "The Hand of Faith,"

The world's largest gold nugget,
Found in South Africa and turned over by a man

No better than a slave,
The pockmarked hand of a golden leper

Barely resembling a human hand,

Revolves in a glass case
As slowly and stately as a pine-scent tree

Strung from the rearview mirror.

We turned away and saw the brass arms go up
and down,
The engraved whorls of the carpet,

The gilt and lights that hide death,
And felt for our ridiculous quarters.


James Reidel




HOMAGE TO RALPH BLAKELOCK

He used bitumen
To the "detriment of his work."

Some "moonlights" never dried --

But great darkness never dries.

It still licked the cup of bone
Behind his brow,

even when he faked himself
from memory

And oiled the light
Of his silver impasto,

Which floated black vaults of trees
Above the crazed surface of pools

Where the moon came down
To bathe its master.


James Reidel




THE REUNIONEER

He has married life now and the white shoes
To show he has crossed through much of its cake.
He is happy or has reason to be.
His memories just look away in time,
And anyone who sees him with his glass
Feels young again and says he's the one
Our friends who died young would ask to see first.
He makes nothing change, some kind of wonder

If he could ever perform it on himself
Parked before the last house on Springvalley
Shaking in a cone of light, the moth snow.
A dead end (of course) and her family moved,
But he waits there sometimes when he drives alone,
Like one of those dogs that don't leave the grave.


James Reidel
Editor's Note: "Dugong" was first published in The Cortland Review. "Mermaid" first appeared in The New Yorker. "Reading Trakl in a Room Lit by Television" was first published in Ironwood. "Kitsch" was first published in Ploughshares. "Homage to Ralph Blakelock" first appeared in The New Criterion. "The Sea Lot" and "The Reunioneer" appeared in previous issues of The Adirondack Review. "My Window Seat for Arlena Twigg,"
"Hymn to Demeter," and "Dies Erae" make their debuts in The Adirondack Review and are from James
Reidel's manuscript My Window Seat for Arlena Twigg and other poems.
bio & credits
JAMES REIDEL has published poems in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, TriQuarterly, Verse, The New Criterion, Ploughshares, and other journals. His translations of Thomas Bernhard and Ingeborg Bachmann have appeared in The Greensboro Review, Artful Dodge, Painted Bride Quarterly and Conjuctions, which also recently featured one of his translations of Thomas Bernhard's poetry. He is the author of Vanished Act: The Life and Art of Weldon Kees, which has just been released by the University of Nebraska Press. Read reviews of the acclaimed biography in The New York Times and The Washington Post. James Reidel's work appears frequently in
The Adirondack Review.
The Adirondack Review