National Poetry Month Spotlight: James Reidel

Welcome to National Poetry Month, 2015! We’re celebrating all month long. Each day we will bring you a poem we love–a selection from one of our published or forthcoming collections. In turn, the featured poets will introduce poems they love. Happy April!
Today’s featured poet is James Reidel, author of My Window Seat for Arlena Twigg and Jim’s Book.
Reidel Cover - Jim's Book
Spring Grove Cemetery, July 2012
The obelisks preen to a radiance that would please a pharaoh as
……….much as them beneath them.
The urn crowns smolder with low and crawling drapes.
Curtain calls would not be out of place here for the theater of
……….every kind of mourning maid—
The bared breast muse penning a sonnet,
The little Duse weeping with her marble eyes a soft coal mascara,
The lily bearers holding their bouquets by the sheaves,
Those Fates (oh, they’re sorry now) throwing out their arms (some
……….hammered off at the elbows)
Reaching for, stealing the show from all these names.
The only drama is mine making crisping sounds with my footfalls
In the burned July grass and clover leaves,
Circling that humility they had then amid conceit,
Two lambs trotted out of a bible story to curl in a wreath,
Loyal to a children’s grave,
Lamarckian and remarkably so,
Worn down to poor soapstone copies of themselves in the mild,
……….caustic vandalism of rain and me,
To two white, like rubber things
I should have to shepherd without the dignity of my own hooves,
The awe of leaving charred prints back to the service road.
One should be tied to my bumper.
One day one should be laid on me
Just to get an edge too weak to carve anything real or sad.
James has chosen to introduce “Mont Blanc” by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
He says: In Shelley’s immortal poem “Mont Blanc” he builds and builds, indeed, paints toward the last word in the poem, “vacancy,” with that corner in the letter V—that in nature you can arrive on a blank slate once more—oh yeah—Mt. Blank—which, spelled back into Mont Blanc, nicely lends its name and image to a line of fountain pens with which to sign cheques at casinos, ink peace accords, or even write Great Verse. Here in southwestern Ohio, whose landscapes have none of that Swiss thralldom, Shelley offers a consolation in his poem, that even “a feeble brook [in] the woods” can make for the same sublime and vast revelation.


James Reidel’s most recent book of poetry is Jim’s Book (Black Lawrence, 2014). He is also the author of another collection, My Window Seat for Arlena Twigg (Black Lawrence, 2006). This spring, he published a selection of dramolettes (short plays) translated from the German of Robert Walser, Fairy Tales (with Daniele Pantano, New Directions, 2015) and a translation of Georg Trakl’s first book, Poems (1913; Seagull Books, 2015). He is also the author of a biography of the poet Weldon Kees, Vanished Act (University of Nebraska Press, 2003). James is currently working on a number of books, including a collection of prose poems.