Author: Marthe Reed

Marthe Reed is the author of three books: (em)bodied bliss (Moria Books 2013), Gaze (Black Radish Books 2010) and Tender Box, A Wunderkammer  (Lavender Ink 2007). A fourth book, Pleth, a collaboration with j/j hastain, is in press (Unlikely Books) and a fifth will be published by Lavender Ink (2014). She has also published four chapbooks, all part of the Dusie Kollektiv. Her poetry has appeared in New American Writing, Golden Handcuffs Review, New Orleans Review, HOW2, MiPOesias, Fairy Tale ReviewExquisite Corpse, and BlazeVOX, among others. An essay on Claudia Rankine’s The Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue appears in American Letters and Commentary.

After Swann 48-50


as though tendering
the spectacle of
aesthetic co-ordinates

a shell-splinter
pearl-grey gloves
his crush hat

a specimen
in the polished disk

of sensual bliss
an accidental

his horizon

bounded by two
fans or
two adjacent chairs

glad of a companion
she preferred
an obscure

a series of trapezes
the pendulum of

her constantly accelerated

almost horizontally
a hollow sound
limiting her field of vision


her due
a pattern in the carpet

the act of politeness

she moved
in order to

her fan
a tender smile
taught in her girlhood

sinuous creatures
somewhere beyond
a more premeditated reaction

she had
a sudden

slender young
free from the scrutiny of

memories and sensations
a woman
reduced to

an echo
a token
romantically compressed


to modify this
she seemed

to appear
by an invitation
a moment dreamed

in the plays of
social engagements
the expression of her anxiety

a pretence
in which she might find herself
a lump of sugar

a thousand signs

might one day emerge
into a laugh
such lovely things

it was only
the emotion of
her gratitude

so delightful
an uneasiness

within reach of
the moment
an impression

isolating the word
a regular little peach
half wishing to oblige

A lapse & Burton prosecutes a dialogue

A lapse

               I will speak, therefore, of a letter


a correspondence
another détour
will you wait there

at the edge of the garden
a lapse
forgive me

narrating its stages
some ‘sheaf’
a method of record

she is not here
nor the difference heard
give me your hands

a jewel
beryls, sapphires
it is empty

her tale an order of disorder
discretion’s intervention
not rigorous

I have lost my place


figuring illusion
a finger in the margin
a marked spectacle

she is already there
a note I had left

present in


sheaf, a sheen

begin to trace the perimeter

Burton prosecutes a dialogue

                And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

abjuring correspondence


the pleasure of

any one of these
inscribed to the memory of a friend

the One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Night
I demanded she make another appearance

we were all exhausted
a climatic “disorder”

Burton proposed a kind of game in which
I would have to guess the rules

a sodatic zone
there were others

a blending of masculine and feminine temperaments
not in evidence

a wife and a friend, a fellow scholar
a series of sketches in which the inevitability of her disappearance is irrefutable


“head on knee and hand to cheek”

What do I know of women?
the usual excuse

I lose patience


“she bade the slave girls unbind me and made me drink a cup of wine”

narrative leaves no room for excuse
we were drunk

what will you wish for?

a form of chess in which pawns are courtesans
a maze we may neither fully enter nor abandon