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. Nice blurbs from Lee Smith, John Grisham, Robert Olen Butler, Frederick Barthelme, and others. He has a new novel, We Are Billion-Year-Old Carbon, due out in 2005 from Livingston. His latest three poetry chapbooks are Chin-Chin in Eden (2003) and Dark on Purpose (2004) and The Heart is Open (2005). He also claims to have written “It’s my Party.” Most importantly, he is Toby and Chloe’s dad and Cheryl’s husband.

Mitmensch Wobbling

Mitmensch feels a fool
today, the morning
a bubble, a
ragged accordion.
Mitmensch knows there
is feeling here
somewhere, children,
wildings, a wife,
a hank of hair.
But Mitmensch is low,
thinking black
thoughts, trembling where
he formerly
scrapped like a cat.
Mitmensch was once a god
among bugs.
Those days are fragile
like a kite,
the string unraveling, the
string unraveling.
Mitmensch makes it to the
threshold, where
he holds steady. The light
is just beyond him,
the tremulous light.
Mitmensch is returning,
slowly refilling
his tanks, hungry for more,
a little more
of everything.

Olive Tree Cairn
for Andy Goldsworthy

Who, but you, sees the art
in the rock, the branch?
Who, but God, a few
minor apostles, and those
arrested by your sortilege?
The cairn opens like a mouth;
the tree a twisted tongue.
I see this in a photograph
in a coffeetable book
in the comfort of my living room.
Outside the temperature
is in the twenties and, for me,
this is forbidding.
I leaf through your book and
the hairs on my neck
rise. They are penitents.
I could look out my kitchen
window at the leaf
cover; there is intelligence
there. Instead I turn another page.