Edgemere By Steven Riel
Poetry Collection by Steven Riel
Steven Riel’s Edgemere is gorgeous, heartbreaking, and witty – often at the same time. With exquisite precision and extraordinary musicality, Riel traces the shimmering, fragile webs of love, experience, and culture that connect us to one another. From the inner life of bullied “sissy boys” to the ravages of AIDS to inimitable pop culture reveries such as “In Search of Della Street,” Riel’s language creates a poetic space in which the individual, sometimes idiosyncratic perspectives he explores open into vistas on what it means to be human
.—Joy Ladin, author of The Future is Trying to Tell Us Something
SAND PILE WITH SISSY I was not drawn to haul dirt in a Tonka truck, to grade the damp sand of lanes planned to wind through quaint suburban developments, nor bugle with spitty lower lips the exhales of down-shifting. My pals battled over claw loaders, with the vanquished carting culverts on flatbed trucks crosstown. I never had to tussle because no other nearby boy coveted the chariot I lusted for: a vermillion station wagon, its glossy enamel brash as nail polish. My make-believe errands proved the utility of byways laid out by the boyish boys & their dirty hands (though under my breath I’d tut-tut about construction delays, the dust they would deposit on my dashboard). I’d take unnecessary detours I called caprices the long way back from the butcher’s to feel the breeze flatten my chiffon scarf while I’d dream that I drove an aerodynamic convertible & its Forward Look—“Suddenly it’s 1960!” “Rocket ahead in glamourous style!”— or the Lincoln Landau that full-page ads I scrutinized on our coffee table showed accompanied by a cocktail dress, a rich beau to swing open the passenger door like a well-trained dog. Joey & John shook hands on laying a railway spur through their sand & gravel—while I pictured the BIG plaid, BIG threads of my car coat’s elbow-length sleeves, its implausible collar; & reveled in my soap-opera worries: would the bold red of this wagon in its carport clash with the cedar-stained shakes of our ranch? Would the watermelon carved into a baby buggy I discovered in one of my mother’s cookbooks & oh-so-ached to fill with grapes & melon bites earn me oooo’s at my best friend’s shower? When my salt & pepper Rock Hudson husband returned from the city to find the workmen gone, our neighborhood completed, & me with fresh lipstick, puckered for a kiss, would he be pleased, or open his eyes one dawn & see me as a maraschino fossil buried in last week’s Jell-O mold?
Steven Riel is the author of one full-length collection of poetry (Fellow Odd Fellow) and three chapbooks. His most recent chapbook Postcard from P-town was published as runner-up for the inaugural Robin Becker Chapbook Prize. His poems have appeared in several anthologies and numerous periodicals, including The Minnesota Review and International Poetry Review. He currently serves as editor-in-chief of the Franco-American literary e-journal Résonance.