Two Poems

J. J. Steinfeld

Murder Mystery

She passed him a note
which he read slowly
with the apprehension
of the betrayed:
“A murderer has my name
nearly exact
except for a stylized spelling
of her first name,
I use y, she i.

She was pretty enough
the light could have been better
he could have been more circumspect.

They went home in this poem
or, more accurately,
in a story caught in this poem
and after the expenditures
of passions and pasts
he asked her to spell her name slowly
with her hands on the table.


Obscenity Trial

It was, an expert on such things argued,
the most obscene photograph ever taken
of an average, nondescript person
standing atop the smallest mountain.
The prosecutor questioned the relevance
of calling mountains small or large
and repeated the word obscene several times
sounding in love with the word.
As a side thought the expert mused aloud,
“In the realm of mountains
there has to be a smallest mountain
just as there has to be a smallest giant
or a least monstrous monster.”
The prosecutor remembered an obscene dream
with a hundred photographs
but not one mountainous or monstrous,
and the jury and judge
shouted the expert into submission
demanding to see the obscene photograph
just as the subject of the photograph
entered the courtroom
and had the smallest monster
anyone had ever seen
walking quietly alongside.

Canadian poet, fiction writer, and playwright J. J. Steinfeld lives on Prince Edward Island, where he is patiently waiting for Godot’s arrival and a phone call from Kafka. While waiting, he has published fourteen books: ten short story collections, two novels, two poetry collections—the most recent ones being Misshapenness (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions, 2009) and A Glass Shard and Memory (Stories, Recliner Books, 2010). "Murder Mystery" was published in Ottawa Arts Review. "Obscenity Trial" was published in J Journal.