Three Poems by George Reiner


the swallows came thrice

My dad pointed his ruler arm
mispronounced their Latin name
to announce summer’s
arrival of better days.

The swallows’ quiet gossip
farmstead pylon
pulsated electric signals
into my fledgling brain.

I noted their English
but my pen holding hand
newly grown down
did not murmur
with their agile grace.

I stood hand over eyes
as everywhere became horizon
to pray for the red jacket
my dad preened
would turn true feathers
and fly me home
but memory doesn’t make family.

On the balcony
white paint chipped away
my head remembered the angle
when age was important
and hatching not yet history.

I saw the swallows before my father
a first flight for our family.

Between Cairene apartments
a migration ahead
that promise of better days
in thermal currents
did not answer
my parental concern.

Wire thin tail
and blood-red throat and forehead
criss-crossed heaven’s floor
with nowhere to go
spread flames
into skies so clear
you think it cloudy
and put the city to shade.

In my life and his
I sang every morning
but his hard hearing
and my memory
swallow nest thick
made the chorus a seance
and ouija boards their perches.

A flight path apology
doesn’t make a remedy.

They look lower this year
atmosphere collapse
their wings butter blunt
to cut through rain
and puncture past.

They arrived in one’s and two’s
with their small white windows
snowdrop harmonise
back and forth
low above the ground
the swallows mis-
took the rain
for flying insects,
but still fed their children
despite the reflection.

My eyes followed the flight
to my dad’s smile, that electric pylon
and I apologised
for adding rain drops to their feathers

and I thanked my dad
for helping me believe

swallows make a summer.


we are not the sun

new neon
drowns in heliocentric embrace
but on kinship’s orbit journey
finds a field to glean the day

waxing wheat
decorates skin seeds shine
lightyears slow down the
ministers’ overcast myths

crescent cream
smoke dresses his leaky
halo pours every silk sound
over the family roof

waning white
pulls the oceans to erode
his bodyshore stitched
together with consolations

full flower
december blossom dances
in endless alchemist circles
till bones bend the clouds

at night’s orifice
and think
don’t want to be
the sun.


those pink flowers by the river

after the Anglo-Saxon riddles




there are
these flowers
I don’t know                                                                           for with
their names                                                                            desiring
and I don’t                                                                              under floods
want to know                                                                         it folds into
the gurgling                                                                            forever and
riverside                                                                                  when the
thick stems                             voyage                                    memories
laid aloud                                between old                          bed then
strings                                      and young                             bank their
meandering                             up turned                              lover’s name
over god’s                                mother’s skirts                     we pray
lyre, river flows                       hide snails                            flat hands
whisper                                     they don’t                             pool lakes
of the harp’s                             mind                                     on palms’
harmony                                   their fingers                         like looking
with flowers                             vein wide                              at beauty
softly rouged                           curved and                            your cheeks
on top like                                caught sunsets                     become
mouths open                           underneath                           drizzle rain
to taste                                      a shadow                               or when I
the wind’s                                 lying with                             cleaned hands
promise and                             dragonflies’                          on family graves
the bees’                                    too heavy                              I don’t know
chamber sing                           to land on                             their names
our kin and                              their lips                                and I don’t
loosen kind                              so go without any                want to know.



About the Author:

George Reiner is a poet, translator, and artist based between London and Birmingham. With Penny Burkett they have published ‘cruising for lavs’ that explored queer relations and experiences in Polari. He is a member of the Birmingham Hippodrome Young Poets and has published his queer break-up translations as part of South London Gallery’s Strange Perfume Queer Book Fair. He is currently working on a short story in Italian, ‘Di-Ospitare,’ that explores hospitality in the modern world as part of a residency at CasaPiena MicroCentro in Petralia Soprana, Sicily.

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