width=61 height=87> Corey Mesler
Featured Poet


COREY MESLER is the owner of Burke's Book Store, in Memphis, Tennessee, one of the country's oldest (1875) and best independent bookstores. He has published poetry and fiction in numerous journals including Rattle, Pindeldyboz, Quick Fiction, Cranky, Thema, Mars Hill Review, Poet Lore and others. He has also been a book reviewer for The Memphis Commercial Appeal. A short story of his was chosen for the 2002 edition of New Stories from the South: The Year's Best, published by Algonquin Books. Talk, his first novel, appeared in 2002.

My Father


      "There were human lives organized around these ways
      and houses, and that they, the houses, say, 
      were the analogue, and that what men created they
      also were, through some transcendent means, 
      I could not bring myself to concede."

                        Saul Bellow


      "This is not my beautiful house.
      This is not my beautiful wife."

                        David Byrne



He wore clip-on ties and
short-sleeved shirts; 
on weekends shorts with black socks.
He went to work
by carpool and dinner was
promptly at 4:45
upon his return.
Every day he worked with numbers,
figuring how E. I. DuPont
could save a penny here and there
on sodium.
Better living through chemicals.
His brother, Bill, worked for
DuPont, also.  Every
visit from Uncle Bill brought us new
kitchen sponges, gifts
from the cellulose plant where he worked.
There they made something solid,
or nearly.  My dad
only added columns of fives and sixes.
It was hard to get a fix
on what he did all day.
Nights he watched
TV from the LazyBoy while we did
our homework on the floor:
Mannix, Gunsmoke, Dean Martin.
He lost his father when he was just a boy.
Grew up fast.
Went to war, retired at 61.
Im 44. I take 4 different kinds
of medication for an anxiety dis-ease.
Better living through chemicals.
When my therapist tells me I had too
little father, I know what
he means.  But,
picture the man.  Large, gentle, hard-
working and responsible.
Always there if not
right in the middle of things.  That
was left to Mom,
her hands busy inside the mess
life bestrews about us.
My father watched it happen around him
as if he couldnt imagine
how hed gotten there, as if we were a
strange garden,
which had grown up around him.
Picture him with a look of innocence, a look
of passivity, a look
that said, all these children, Goddamn I love
them, but where did
they come from?  How did we all get here?
Picture him loving and lost
like all of us, like the whole blessed lot of us.



    "You, waters with no feeling,
    Have you regrets as you flow east?
    In my heart are things I cannot express,
    Does that make me different from you?"

                        Yuan Chen


My father, the river,
flows through the story
of my life.  A small
tinkling music is heard
at times; at times
there is the roar of wild
white water.  Into those
rapids I wish to venture
now, I who have had
no flow before, I who
have come to my father's
side, longing for reflection.


My Father Hospitalized at the Exact Moment the Planes Hit the WTC

My father, hospitalized with congestive
heart failure, will not watch
the news coverage of the aftermath of
the terrorist attacks on America.
It's too depressing.  And, his heart
which has been running on fumes for
years now, doesnt need breaking.


The Morning after the Night my Father Died

The dead weight of the world
is like a tail.  The
morning sun is a blister.
I wake afraid.
The bedclothes tangle me like
manacles.  In the
pit of my stomach, somewhere
around the soul,
a sickness, a foul misalignment.
This is day one.


Did I know I would reach this morning
without a father?  I did.
There is still a child in me and he wants
to be picked up.
He wants to be shown that the hole in the
world is benign.
He wants to be shown that on the other 
side of it is another side.


    "Or play the game of existence to the end."


Only The Beatles on this morning
of dispossession, only
the bright harmonies and jangling
of Georges guitar (gone
now too), only the fuzz bass, the
LSD induced lyrics, the
handsome faces, only the admonition
that it is not dying, it is shining.


He said let the depression
burn you to the bone.
He said live in that space
for a while, that
place of unforgiving sorrow.
Where the sun is black
and the absence of my father
is a canker in the firmament.


On the First Day of 2002

The morning opens like a can.
It feels the same
but it is not the same.
The year is a palindrome, a
good enough
augury.  The bed feels like a
cool pilliwinks.
My daughter comes in on stick
thin legs, her
beauty like the light from a star.
She asks, apropos
of the new year, is John Lennon
still dead?

Copyright  2005 Corey Mesler