In “First Things When”, Robert Rehder views the modern world – our world – with a cool wit. Insights deadly despite a self-deprecating ruefulness spark into view. Rehder’s poems inhabit the invented, rootless places that modern society creates: supermarkets, airports and parking garages; the illusory communities of celebrity and the digital universe: ‘Instead of friends you have email’. There everyone is on first-name terms – ‘What are they trying to hide?’ Rehder’s humour acknowledges his complicity and skewers the fake and the absurd.The small Swiss village of Corminboeuf where the poet lives is both a comic and mythic location for a life. Throughout the collection, luminous, poignant poems return us to a larger world that sustains and, precariously, endures: the fading splendour of Venice, a culture we are in danger of discarding, and a series of poems on the mysterious, transforming power of snow. These are poems of everyday things, remembering and forgetting, movies, coffee mugs and the beauty of the natural world.