Ivanov Reyez – Five Poems

Ivanov Reyez was an English professor at Odessa College. His poetry has appeared in The Cafe Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Paris Lit Up, The Blue Mountain Review, and other journals.

He won the riverSedge Poetry Prize 2015. He is the author of Poems, Not Poetry (Finishing Line Press, 2013).

He is a Pushcart Prize nominee in fiction.


Nora, I’m sorry
but Joyce got you hot for us,
lit you into an Irish siren.
Every time I see your picture, your smile,
that rabbit mouth of yours
nibbles at my eyes and I know what Joyce saw
in the cramped little beds of hot apartments
with turquoise shutters.

How epic your inspiration
as his novel swelled in the light of your dark Yes.
He stopped singing, playing his guitar,
uncrossed his legs and crawled beside you,
drunk and beaten, to find refuge
and forge himself in the smithy
of your milky, fleshy thighs.

“Molly, Molly,” he cried and remembered
watching you that afternoon, massive from behind,
a skinny Ulysses weaving himself again
into the fabric of your motherly flesh,
clinging like a barnacle from Galway.

Wet in That Rain

You thought of all the people
who had walked in that light,
wet in that rain.

You thought of all the people
who had walked on that path,
long before light,
wet in that rain.

You stood at the window
counting windows till they disappeared.
She blinked on the twin bed,
wet in that rain.


I could see her behind the sanddunes,
The seagulls seesawing in cold air.
Eyes shut to the shadow above her,
She pulled her suit, spread her yellow hair.

She could not bear his painful thrusting.
The seagrass swayed, little plover stared.
She slapped herself; still the hot sand stuck,
Still the grating foam for what she’d dared.

She disappeared into sea and glare,
Her tears deepening the coral void.
Soon a splashing demand beside her
Dragged her to dunes she could not avoid.

Helpless to help the reluctant girl,
I turned to morning oats and plover.
I could not see her behind the dunes,
Walked the strand; for me it was over.

His Cane Tapping

I can still hear his cane tapping,
past our apartment down the hall to his.
It was his way of exercising, my mother said,
of keeping his memory alive, of taking
things into his rooms to reduce the aloneness.

I was fifteen, home from school every afternoon,
generally friendless but generally happy,
close to my mom after my father died or disappeared,
or he disappeared and died like water dried.

I could hear outside in the hall
the daily tapping, the old man nearly blind
finding his door through knowledge, memory,
or even smell, I imagined, as I tried to study
and felt the tapping like a mysterious alarm clock.

Through Whitman, Walt Whitman, I met the man,
a retired professor virtually abandoned by all
who once had drunk his words, now tapping his cane
past my door and reciting how he celebrated himself.

My mother did not object to my meeting the man,
harmless in every way she knew, to my reading to him
from his piles of books in his darkish living room.
There we both trembled to the words and lit lamps
and heard America singing while his cane rested.

But one afternoon of mad thunder, lightning and rain,
with my eyes drowsy after “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,”
I sensed his presence, as of old age looming,
his fingers gentle at the hem of my flowered dress.

I can still feel his cane tapping.

Botero Woman on Padre Island

In a black onepiece swimsuit,
a tattoo on your right thigh,
you roll like a stranded whale
with the surf, with the seashells
tumbling back and forth.

But abler than the whale
you ebb into the waves
when the stranger slowly
approaches, slowly in sand moccasins,
his eyes dissecting in the shadows
of the hovering gulls.

You squat, you rise in the spume,
sensing yourself as powerful
as the sea when you magnetize
even the youngest Adonis
to thirst for the swaying hem
of your skirt of brine.

In the sky the sunlight’s ribboned.
On the sand tattered by gulls,
your skin brown as seabeans
glistens oily and bubbly,
and nothing is larger than you.




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