August 2000

James Reidel


James Reidel 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, and Painted Bride Quarterly. He is the author of Vanishing Act: The Life and Art of Weldon Kees, which will be published by Story Line Press in early 2001.

K'ung with a Corn Broom    Click to hear in real audio

Now shall I write—
A spell to bless the silkworms?

Sit under the dwarf orange
In a shoe-size of shade?

Make of white petals
Dropped around the clay pot

That snow ink of mountain poets?
I can hold any stick

Like a brush of winter hair
Made of civet’s tail.

Even a few characters stir the faint scent,
Make the dry sound

Of mulberry girls passing to their fields.

A dark strand arches through the dustpan—

I have traced that same bow
Down the back of a dead mouse.

This is the one I please, one hair at a time.



Dugong   Click to hear in real audio

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: Poetry
Copyright � 2000 The Cortland Review Issue 12The Cortland Review