Corey Mesler


Soseki went out walking.
He went out walking.
In the distance was a mountain,
a hill higher than
any other hill. Soseki stood
and looked long
upon its eminence.
And when he started back toward
home he took that
mountain with him. He took it
with him.



          “Go to her now she calls
          you you can’t refuse.”
                  Bob Dylan

A look that can turn the heart
to stone. A devil may care
attitude. She’s nocturnal;
her parents’ remonstrance
does no good. In the grave way
she takes to you there is
perhaps a little stroke of love.
It’s always been this way,
time and time in memoriam.
Time she has in spades.
The way her bosom heaves
lights a fire in you. It’s almost
as if she knew your worst secret.
You tell her your worst secret.


For Stacey

In the anthology the poem
I loved yesterday
today has disappeared.


I Lost my Dad

          “And the moment of death is also the death of individual time: the life of a human being becomes inaccessible to the feelings of those remaining alive, dead for those around him…Time is a state: the flame in which there lives the salamander of the human soul.”
               Andrei Tarkovsky

          “Go and beat your crazy head against the sky.”
               John Sebastian

When I say I lost my dad
in December I mean
he is gone. He
does not exist on the earthly
plane; he is ash.
I have lost him.
I looked in the bedclothes,
tangled like manacles.
I looked in the pages of books,
empty now with words
that clang and clamor.
Cracked alphabetiforms,
aberrant punctuation marks.
I looked throughout my house
when no one was home.
In the rooms where the wind
soughs through the sheets,
through the shirts I left
hanging in the closet
so many years ago.
Dried out like bones.
And I came up barren and bereft.
He is gone.
Is he spirit? Is there a God?
Is there transubstantiation?
Life after death, an eternity?
I mean he is lost to me
now. Forever, forever, forever.
He is a cruel and, Lord help
me, lifeless midnight.



I’ll tell you
a fable
a tale
with an ending
like a
sucker. Sit
in my lap
and listen
closely. I’ll
make the
sound of
if the sound of
chopping is
The tale will
almost tell itself.
That is
the tale’s
That is why
I asked
you to sit with
Things still
the magic of
their own


Kathleen Who Used to be Patti

Patti, on whom I had
a heavy crush
in high school, has
changed her name
in middle-age
to Kathleen. She insists
in her emails that
I abide by her substitute.
She doubts my crush,
remembers me as a cool
customer, a friend
of boys with fast cars.
I remember one afternoon
spent on her doorstep,
the only intention
to win her listless heart.
Now, I picture her,
hundreds of miles away,
a newborn to her pink
and perfectly cup-shaped
breast, her shirt raised
in the quiet of her
steady home. I picture
her as she hesitates
before answering me again.
She has to lay each
word in its place
so carefully, it’s like an
ancient religion,
one pretty much disappeared
from the tawdry world.



A hero to the children, a
firedrake to my mates
at the Speakeasy, a teacher
to the class war, a spectacle
to bums. A lover, a
father, a soldier in arms:
a newborn. This is how life
moves, circling like water
descending, revolution like
the swift sucking of cloud.


Desire in Your Very Mouth

I love
the way
your lips
like a book
Your dark
I love
the way
you place
right in
my path,
as if
I were
going anyplace
Your lips
to tell me
to bamboozle me,
to take
me in.

© 2004 Corey Mesler

Corey Mesler has published prose and/or poetry in a wide variety of journals both here and abroad, including Canopic Jar, Contrary, Pindeldyboz, Mars Hill Review, Pikeville Review, Arkansas Review, Center, Small Press Review, and Jabberwock Review. He has published poetry chapbooks, including Piecework (Wing and a Wheel Press) and Chin-Chin in Eden (Still Waters Press), and has appeared in the anthologies Full Court: A Literary Anthology of Basketball (Breakaway Books), Pocket Parenting Poetry Guide (Pudding Press), Intimate Kisses: The Poetry of Sexual Pleasure (New World Press) and Smashing Icons (Curious Rooms). Corey's novel-in-dialogue, Talk, was published by Livingston Press in 2002. Raves from Lee Smith, Robert Olen Butler, Steve Stern, Debra Spark, Suzanne Kingsbury, Frederick Barthelme and John Grisham.

Among other things, Corey's been a book reviewer (for The Commercial Appeal, BookPage, The Memphis Flyer, Brightleaf), fiction editor (for Ion Books/raccoon), university press sales rep, grant committee judge (for The Oregon Arts Council), father and son. With his wife, he owns Burke’s Book Store, one of the country’s oldest (1875) and best independent bookstores.