In these prose poems on "spleen of life" in Pain after Baudelaire's Paris Spleen, Christopher Reiner manages the edge poetry owns between. Neither swathed in commercial bliss nor gripped by endless agony, this is where we are, where we live and can breathe the gnarls of an old man who hung himself only after having collected and passed to us the oddments our mother requested her neighbors gather in her alzheimeric quest for.

There is no answer here, no resolution. Just a constant re-examination of how we might feel without asking the question or even holding out the expectation that we will finally pass the exam and qualify for life after the school has hard-knocked us into the realization


As one perverted as they said by Catcher in the Rye, I can identify with an alien and alienated by caring overmuch stance toward a culture gripped in.


What was I saying?"

Review of Pain, Christopher Reiner, Penngrove, CA, Avec Books, 2001, $11.00..

Thomas Bell