Nicholas Reiner

Elegy in Time

This is elegy
in time of wind
elegy in time of war
elegy in time of peace
elegy at one
elegy of two
elegy in time of sorrow
elegy in time of happiness
elegy in the hours before
and the hours after
elegy among friends
elegy at a bonfire
elegy on a wave at Sunset Beach
elegy on a Friday getting faded
elegy during a fireworks show
elegy at Disneyland
elegy in time of triumph
elegy in all time

Yes, this is elegy
in time of war
elegy in time of peace
elegy in winds
elegy in sun
elegies for sons
elegy in time of need
elegy in time of sorrow
elegy in time of triumph
elegy in several parts
No, elegy in seven parts
elegy forever
elegy never
elegy when

elegy in seven parts:

     1. we say his name: Eric

     2. we do not say his name enough

     3. we sold his car

     4. his car smelled bad 

     5. where is his car?

     6. I can’t remember his scent

     7. what would he think of me now?


The uncovered garden in the middle
of the hospital’s locked ward
fields sky light all day. 

We go out for an hour each afternoon,
to walk. I step into the garden,

my mind uninhabitable. 
It is a gift to walk outside, even
if it is still walking inside.

My running shoes smush well-cut grass.
I touch yellow flowers,
smell mid-afternoon June air.

Vitruvius wrote of the hypaethral
opening, how the center of a temple
could be roofless,
open to the king of the gods.

Self-Portrait as Messenger of God

On my walk home from Intro to Psychology the idea continued to consume my mind: I am a prophet. During class, I’d been scribbling notes in my blue notebook about my place in the world, talking inwardly with myself: I am a prophet. No, you are not a prophet. Yes, you are a prophet, but you can’t tell anybody you are, for a prophet has to be humble. God doesn’t want you to speak of your status as prophet.

 I decided earlier that week I’d be writing a book that would change the world. I wouldn’t put my name on it, though. I’d pass it around like a resistance pamphlet and pretend I’d found it somewhere. Nowhere in the book would it say the author’s name. I didn’t know all of what being a prophet would require but I knew this was part of it.    

    Later, after I had stopped going to class, I draped a rosary around my neck like finishing a shrine. I couldn’t stop crying, overcome with grief (mourning what, I couldn’t say). I said to my roommate, I know how Frodo felt as he carried the ring into Mordor! I slept little before they took me to the hospital and wrote many words in my notebooks those days—most of which, while illegible and nonsensical now, were divinely rendered then.


Nicholas Reiner is a poet in the MFA program at University of California, Irvine. His work has appeared at Orange Coast Review, The Ear, and He lives in Santa Monica, CA with his wife.