1. By harpy-footed Furies hail'd

Every omelet is their baby, so they watch me whisk.
They watch the poems, they watch the sex,
My shoulders become footrests and knees
The foothills that I get. They watch me stuck:
"Fifth element-shit." Napoleon (in some translations).
They watch the way I risk-everything-clattering
My fork in a silver bowl like Bach,
Placing it on the countertop with Asko agape,
Its trapdoor close enough to where I would come
up through the floor
-and all this does dots to a small yellow footprint,
A yolk snowflake lasting until the tines melt together,
Showing how sharp their claws are,
That I make them land.

2. Venus of Melos

Maybe she tried to catch herself
When she fell to the floor, giving her forever
The problem with her arms and the best minds
Their window dresser's attic of gestures,
The worst mind his butcher's paper,
Marble arms supple for her maker and paint flesh,
The fresh ozone of heaven's command telegraphed
with a thunderbolt
Through the clouds these days covered with souls
Like pigeons roosting on the temple roofs.
It must have come once, when he waltzed with her,
When she was done, with whatever they did for a
slow dance then, with whatever stars
-real stars over the Cyclades-for their mirrored
ball, their prom night.

I was never asked nor asked, and she knows who she is,
and I know what I know now-
Where the bare shoulders and the dress should go,
The orchid and the chaperones.

3. The Hall Closet

A clef note of her Jewish hair overwrites
One winglike fold in her raincoat,

The sidelong look in the coat hanger hook,
The faint smell from a canister of mothballs,

The shadows that clothes make in the sun,
Put away here-

I could make them limbo under the clothes rod,
With one hand-they are nothing

And find whatever it is I forgot.

I have the power to take any one of them
Out of line and breathe down their wire-bone

I have that power.

-for M.L.R.

James Reidel
The Adirondack Review
JAMES REIDEL has published poems in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, TriQuarterly, Verse, The New Criterion, Ploughshares, Conjunctions, and other journals. His translations
of Thomas Bernhard and Ingeborg Bachmann have appeared in The Greensboro Review, Artful Dodge, Painted Bride Quarterly and Web Conjuctions. 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. This is his third appearance in TAR.