Charles G Lauder Jr

©  Julian Lauder-Mander

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the poet

Charles G Lauder Jr was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Having lived on both coasts of America and graduated from Boston University, he moved to Leicestershire in the UK where he lives with his wife and two children. His poems have been published widely – in print, and online. From 2014 to 2018, he was Assistant Editor for The Interpreter’s House; and for over twenty years, he's copyedited academic books on literature, history, medicine and science. Charles' two pamphlets are Bleeds and Camouflaged Beasts. His debut collection is The Aesthetics of Breath.

the poems

The Color of Mourning

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            The colour of morning in a San Diego autumn:

            you   displaced here twelve years   note

            sunlight’s silent taint and fade   trees stained

            not with the blood of a slain midsummer god

            but with the knick of his finger.


            Dressed in the hues of fallen leaves you fill

            kitchen corners with apples and acorns

            corn husks and pine cones   brew cauldrons

            of thick chowder and beer   dropping hints

            that August has outstayed its welcome.


            This is the time of spiders   gossamer-veiled

            doorways   thresholds scorched by the shadow

            of scarred tattooed pumpkins   eyes spooned out

            in grief over summer’s supposed passing.

            From here you scry distant clouds of smoke:


            seasonal wildfires fuelled by desert sage

            and dried brush that will touch many hands

            before put out   like the sparklers once waved

            around a bonfire as if casting a spell   lights

            danced off your fingers before extinguishing.

The Pissing Contest

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            Little boys with their penises in hand

            gathered about a porcelain trough,

            the drain a silver dome,

            when all they know of politics

            is what they overhear their parents declare,

            so though they know nothing of Watergate

            and eighteen minutes of missing tape,

            nor of Ehrlichman and Hunt, Mitchell and Dean,

            they know ‘Nixon’, with its hard ‘ks’ lump,

            and Congressional hearings, the long, droning table of men

            in a dark wooden-panelled room

            and the high smack of a gavel,

            broadcast on all three TV channels,

            stealing away afternoon cartoons

            and Mother’s soaps for weeks on end,

            they stand there, penises grasped in little hands,

            following the biggest boy’s lead

            and aim their streams at the silver dome drain:

            Look at me! I’m peeing on the Capitol!

            Only a few of the arched golden flows

            have the strength to splatter against the dome,

            burst through its holes like a water cannon

            against windows, offices and corridors flood

            with desks and sofas floating away in the foam,

            interns and PAs swim to get clear.

            It doesn’t matter if they really meant

            the White House, or Congress,

            or Washington in general,

            this is for Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck,

            and, if their mothers were here,

            The Guiding Light and As the World Turns,

            little boys peeing until penises run dry

            and the pee drains away,

            leaving a stink and a stain,

            the little boys are proud of their new game,

            as penises are waved and shook, then tucked away.

            This before the days of separate urinals,

            like older brothers and fathers already use,

            where they’ll stand, distracted by size,

            and brag to one another that the water is cold,

            and the biggest boy will reply, And deep too.

The Guest

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            Bellying up to the night in neighborhoods

            as dark as the street corners of my mind

            I meet him fully for the first time,

            lucid, bug-eyed manic but not ugly,

            his frightened grasp handcuffed to my wrist

            as he circles, circles about me

            like wagons on the open, empty plains.

            What folk birthed and nurtured him,

            caged him, then set him free

            with few words in the ear as guidance?

            Like a cousin, or brother, last seen as a child

            —he’s not a stranger, but he is.


            Back home, thieves have broken in

            and he breathes their air, the money

            they stole, the television they broke,

            the window they crawled through,

            the colorful oxygen of their skin.

            Like a dead grandfather or drunk uncle

            at Christmas he collapses on the sofa

            mumbling like a ventriloquist,

            lending me his tremulous voice,

            his pinched nose and clouded sight.

            Rubbish spilling from his pockets

            is quickly brushed under the carpet.

Publishing credits

The Color of Mourning: The Aesthetics of Breath (V. Press)

The Pissing Contest: Atrium

The Guest: Dreich (Season 4, No. 2)