RAPID EYE MOVEMENT & OTHER POEMS (Bay Books, 1976)
No longer in print, this paperback poetry collection is currently available from second-hand stores and websites such as MX BookFinder.
"Leider is a poet of subtle shades, sometimes with haunting effect." -- BOOKSWEST
"Sometimes caustic, sometimes tender personal poems from an up-and-coming poet." --BAY GUARDIAN
"Skilled, genuine. tender and terse all at the same time." -- Lynne Sharon Schwartz, author of DISTURBANCES IN THE FIELD and ROUGH STRIFE
RAPID EYE MOVEMENT
Difficult to look. I mean at anything, to make the eyes stay put.
They want to shift, move out
wherever something might be missed.
The fear of missing winds us up, we’re like small go cars
set in motion by a key, with that same random energy
we scan, pan, glance, turn to one side
do anything but fix our gaze.
A common cat can stare us down.
In galleries eyes seek whichever picture’s not in front.
They’ll watch the other people watching, catch a reflection in the glass, read titles, dates, descriptions
anything just not to look too long or hard
at that fixed thing before us.
Gertrude Stein, she tells us, loved to stand inside the Louvre
looking out its windows at the day’s gray sky, blown trees,
whatever. As if the landscapes were escaping their gold frames,
she saw them window-framed but free.
In Italy she took to napping on the Pitti’s long red benches.
That sleeping Buddha with eyes moving dreamed
her own Castagnas. Giottos, Tinterettos
as the pacing guards no doubt with jackets buttoned up
would watch her sleep, take note of some new flaking on the wall, a pretty girl, perhaps
and check their watches.
A wind blows within us. When it stills we become eyeless earth.
From RAPID EYE MOVEMENT & OTHER POEMS by Emily Leider (San Francisco: Bay Books, 1976).