Poetry by James Reidel and C.E. Laine

4 x 2: Poetics 
by James Reidel and C.E. Laine

At 40 Something . . .
by James Reidel

Death is still the Birthday Fairy,
Bisque instead of bone and Dürer,

A Hummel figure with a hollow hourglass
No bigger than a china thimble,

A scythe like the sword of a tin dragoon,
A pull-toy of a skiff,

Accordion crêpe batwings,
A bouquet of tar-bubble black balloons.

You may leave out milk and cookies
     for it now.
You can stay up for it too.

It takes little bites, no more.
It leaves the plateful yours.

It may even leave your mother alone
As if it needed her

To write its thank-you notes,
To wear its hand

Hiding carfare under your pillow
For more than baby teeth.

One-Day Photo Lab
by James Reidel

Double prints unroll from a great paper spring.
The women wear white gloves.

The air has a weak acid smell.
But of course—

The machines are made in Germany,

Endless family photographs
Disappear through a trap

Into some next room—
Machines big enough to bear names

The way bells were named for angels.

My fingernails, with the moons
That betray health,

Are filed too dull to scratch them
With Berenice, Arbus, and Nina Leen.


©2001 James Reidel

Poetics by C.E. Laine

Melpomene and Erato
by C .E. Laine

Melpomene breaks me
with her funereal fingers

Erato counters
with amber eyes,
strokes me with
words, something
like truth, but

Melpomene waits
in the wings, stage
left --waits for me
to fall flat on my face.

Sacred songs of lust,
Erato sings, hands
open, palms up,
invites me in.

Like winter wind,
Melpomene wails
her long thin hands
covering her face.

Erato cradles me
like a wounded bird,
presses lips to wings
too fragile to fly, and

Melpomene cries
louder. Her song,
a litany of my past.

Erato’s roving fingers
want to own me, want
to reach inside, where
I am still warm.

Melpomene’s voice
predicts no good thing
will come of this, but

Erato insists.

Confessions to the Envious Man
by C. E. Laine

Kneeling, genuflecting
in a quiet room that smells
of wood and lemongrass oil,

she asks The Father,
she asks The Son,
she asks The Holy Spirit,

for terms of penance.
For inner peace.
For the second chance
she’ll not waste

this time.

Hushed words fall from lips
stained with purpose;
words dipped in
water blessed

by the man
dressed in black.

His stiff white collar hides
the lust in his head,
as he chants Latin
behind a polished altar.

With an envious heart,
he tells her how many
“Hail Mary’s” to say.


© 2001 C. E. Laine

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