The Last Book (of Poems) I Loved: Coeur de Lion


Ariana Reines’ Coeur De Lion makes me want to drink and have sex. Not frilly drinks but hard strong liquor, and not just any sex, but the stuff of human explosions. Her poems, woven and connected from beginning to end, offer up an altar full of lustful interactions—classroom, bathroom, hotel and tree-hugging encounters, and the push-pull of an affair doomed to end in flames.

When we were in the mountains
We straddled a big fallen tree
I was so happy

I love these words! The poems sit sparse on the page, progressing as a tight narrative. I put Ms. Reyes in my cannon of love/lust poets like Deborah Landau and The Last Usable Hour, with her sexy wanderings through the city late at night, and Sandra Cisneros, whose Loose Woman makes me cry out for someone to spoon and swoon with.

Coeur De Lion’s beauty is in its sparse and tight language. There are few twists or clever turns of phrases, each line is hard flesh exposed for all its veins and glory. It’s in your mouth, and you will be satisfied with the finish:

My heart was beating
We went into the stall
And you slammed me against the wall
And everything was possible

The narrator and her lover/comrade are both writers. We live through their passion, their triangles and the circles of their small, close-knit literary worlds. Their story begins with holding hands in class and ends with borrowed books. It travels from the classroom to hotel rooms, and sadly, online, where words eventually kill the lovers.

The morning after
I definitively ruined
Our relationship
You wrote to me…

You Ariana! For making believe,
For being too proud. For reading
Too deeply into words, so much
So that their meaning forms
Into nothing but your insecurities.

I feel the need to confess that I absolutely ruined a relationship in this very same manner. As a poet I read way too much into words, and my insecurities, while maybe not so visible on the surface, burn and rage down deep in me. I was with Ariana and her lover from the beginning to end. After the first reading of Coeur de Lion I opened a bottle of tequila and did shots in honor of Ariana Reines and the powerful magnetic pull of her naked pages filled with sex and bravery.

Liz Axelrod is a graduate student at The New School. She was Managing Editor of two award-winning editions of 12th Street, the New School’s undergraduate literary journal; Editor-in-Chief of, and is now a Poetry Reader for LIT Magazine. Her work has been published in the Cat Oars Fiction Collective, 12th Street, Lyre Lyre, The Rumpus, and The Brooklyn Rail. She is currently working on her first collection of poems tentatively titled Nowhere Tongue. More from this author →