Eleanor Wilner
"Entering the Labyrinth," an essay on the persona poem.

Eleanor Wilner
Four persona poems: Minos, Ariadne, Daedalus, and The Minotaur.


This marks an author's first online publication Michelle Boisseau

This marks an author's first online publication Annie Boutelle
Christine Casson
This marks an author's first online publication Carolyn Creedon
Claudia Emerson
Daisy Fried
Diane Gilliam
Shadab Zeest Hashmi
Kathleen Jesme
Ilya Kaminsky
Marilyn Krysl
David Lee
Gary Copeland Lilley
Maurice Manning
Alicia Ostriker
Alicia Jo Rabins
Tim Seibles
This marks an author's first online publication Heidy Steidlmayer
Book Review
"Tourist in Hell" by Eleanor Wilner—Book Review, by David Rigsbee.

Christine Casson

Christine Casson is the author of a book of poems, After the First World (Star Cloud Press, 2008), and was named "Poet of the Month" at She is currently writing a book of non-fiction that explores the relationship between trauma and memory, and is at work on a study of the poetic sequence titled "Sequence and Time Signature: A Study in Poetic Orchestration." She is Writer in Residence at Emerson College.


      —Langley Collyer, 1885–1947

'Tis well to hoard anew—
Remembering the Dimensions
Of Possibility.

      —Emily Dickinson

This strange invigoration like butterflies
alighting on my chest, wings brushing
to and fro so I can't concentrate, can't sit still,
almost tempts me out of doors into daylit air.

Last evening, that gentleman—a stringer
outside our home—he was inquisitive
like many, but what welcome conversation.
I've neglected all social engagements,

cast them off like those Thurston suspenders
I found sprawled all cockeyed in the gutter.
He and I walked the way I always do,
my empty box in tow—One Twenty-Fifth Street,

Lenox down to ninety-Sixth, Central Park West,
south to Times Square. He didn't seem to mind.
We took a tour of the Herald Tribune
(at his suggestion). Those fine machines!—

rows of Platen presses chugged and whined;
the old cameras perched like black birds
cured on shelves. He photographed my likeness
cradling one. I wanted to tease it apart,

tinker it into something newfangled.
After, I gathered newspapers for Homer—
the Tribune, of course, the Times, Mirror,
Post, the Daily News, Evening Sun; then home.

I couldn't ask this pressman in, the house
too disarrayed, pianos in the way, unruly piles
not meant to navigate, like this Matterhorn—
books, cogset from a bicycle, picture frames,

a baby's crib—each one keeps each other one
aligned. I engineer these careful balancings,
contrive our pathways, stacks, an empty
niche. Some burglar is sure to break his neck,

start an avalanche if he trips the unseen
wires animating a booby-trap. Concealed
tunnels tangle through this steep terrain
so I can get away if all else fails.

Such safety here! Shades obstruct the neighbor's
curiosity, no one in or out but me, protected
from the riff-raff that leave refuse on our lawn,
break our windows (half are bandaged up

like Homer's eyes). No electricity,
gas (we use kerosene), no meters to read,
no repairmen shuffling through, no visitors,
no phone, most everything we need at hand.

Though some few items I procure at night
on my clandestine walks—from benches,
sidewalk bins, squandered by the rich, scraps
salvaged from the butcher, grocer, baker,

other odds and ends; just recently,
a folding chair with peeling, gilt-edged arms.
They comfort me, these necessities:
the bladder and the horizontal screw

of an old wine press, Mother's yards of silk,
her hope chests, tapestries, the chassis
of a Model-T, banjos, organs, tubas,
glass chandeliers, a gramophone and clocks,

Father's books, antique X-ray apparatus,
balls to bowl with, my brother's lists and files,
valuables, memorabilia, archives
stored and catalogued—invention's embryos

secured in a brick womb. They poise like pupae
ardent for some future incarnation,
each in its place, their energies released
with my caress, now shimmering when I pass.



© 2010 The Cortland Review