July 8-14, 2002: Corey Mesler, Rachelle Markley and Will Roby

week of July 8-14, 2002

this week presenting the judges of the 2002 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest

Corey Mesler
Rachelle Markley
Will Roby

click here for submission guidelines

Corey Mesler

Bio (auto)

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 includin Yellow Silk, Pindeldyboz, Green Egg, Black Dirt, Thema, Mars Hill Review, Poet Lore and others He has worked in the book business all his adult life, if he has had an adult life He is also a book reviewer for The Memphis Commercial Appeal, The Memphis Flyer, Brightleaf and BookPage A short story of his has been chosen for the 2002 edition of New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best, edited by Shannon Ravenel, published by Algonquin Books He also claims to have written, “All Along the Watchtower ” His frist novel, Talk is just out from Livingston Press He is now at work on a collection of linked stories, built from poorly remembered history and bent mythology He enjoys racquet sports and “rough toweling ” Most importantly, he is Toby and Chloe’s dad and Cheryl’s husband.

The following work is Copyright © 2002, and owned by Corey Mesler and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Here at Poetry Central

Pulling open old stuck drawers
replete with folded papers and
letters from long-gone women,
paperclips, liquid paper, photographs:
I’m looking for the poetic voice.
And I’m dreaming, here at my desk,
while the sun sits a cool 68
and the world beckons, but only
the nearby world, that I have found
the words I lack The ones which will bring you here,
without need of calling you, or desire,
or response The sortilege words.

In Love with the Nymphomaniac

I met the nymphomaniac
in New Orleans
standing in the unnatural light
coming off the stage
at Tipitino’s She had purple
eyes She took hold
of me like a ragdoll and shook
the bugs out of my
dormant system Afterwards,
in the silvery morning
light of the motel room, she
mounted me again “This time,” she said, “this time
is for you “
I fell in love with the nymphomaniac I never saw her again The wound she gave me,
the wound in my thigh, is immutable I wear it like a fucking badge.

Agoraphobe’s Litany

The door is a mouth The foot is a disease The sunshine is too hot
for thinking Outside is a fence Thinking goes nowhere The trap is a mind.

Business Day

“A man is a man Sometimes he’s neither “

I walk the thin line
between love and giving up I wake up before
the children, shave my face
to show them
the man under the gorilla mask I take the sidewalk
as if it were my godgiven right I turn right I head downtown where the
businesses transact,
loving everyone now, even
the fella standing there
with his hand out, yelling at
me about God I make love to the world this
way, only to turn around
at the end
and head back home, where
my children have
gathered flowers, piling them
on the sandbox
as if on a funeral bier.


I started to leave this sheet
call it “Zen Poem #34”
or somesuch
But now it is marred by this
explanation Life is full
of such mistakes.

Pop Music in the Naumachia of Desiderata

“You’ve got to look before you leap;
There’s heartaches around every corner “
The Dave Clark Five

Pop music bubbles in my blood, like
a backbeat my heart acquired in its
46 years of longing I hear the singing
that brings the birds closer, the
singing that angels make with their
toiling, the singing my daughter
carries as lightly as a firefly does its light I turn the music up The singer says
something about carbon and something
about unrequited love I nod and bounce The words gather in me like a disease.

After the Party

Susan loves Mark who loves
Kelly who loves Anthony
who sits by himself because
there is a canker on his soul Tom loves Lita who loves
John who loves everyone, so
expansive is John’s heart Jane loves too well, Bill loves
to drink, Trish loves Steve
who loves the Lord, who rains
down upon the wicked and
the kind with equal fervor Glen loves Valerie who loves
Helen who, back from Troy,
loves me, in my fierce and
jerry-built dreams Amen.

Rachelle Markley

Bio (auto)

Rachelle lives, works, and writes from the middle of the urban desert landscape of Phoenix, Arizona She is due to graduate from the Phoenix College Creative Writing Program in 2002 Rachelle has recently completed her first collection of poems, Excavations, and seeks publication while she works on the second collection She placed in the Maricopa Colleges 2001 Creative Writing Competition Most recently, her poetry can be read in Rattle, and is forthcoming in other publications

The following work is Copyright © 2002, and owned by Rachelle Markley and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Offerings–The Day After My High School Reunion


Today I wander around the city
fixed on the image of her
plumped and beautiful
in a red dress
A scarlet smudge behind my eyes
Back when we were seventeen together
we made promises and drank berry wine And we were permanent
Last night, I remember thinking
the second before I touched it
that her hair wasn’t going to be real,
and it was just as my fingers realized
the spindly plastic feel of it
that she said it out loud And I remember hearing myself think:
oh no, not again
As if it were happening to me As if I was the one exposed–laid out
like some blistering martyr
And today I imagine kissing her head,
bare and cool, and holding her hand I have practiced for this This time I will know what to say

My grandmother’s chin quivers
just the slightest bit, and she hums to herself
as she moves through the house She worries about the rabbits getting into the beans
and how the weeds might just take over the garden
that she couldn’t help but plant again this year,
even though she told herself she wouldn’t
Today I am imagining her in bright pink,
and she has found the box of letters
written long ago by my father that she thought
so important to show me
She says she feels fine,
she just gets tired now, and she offers to show me
the scar She says she’ll show it to me
if I want I don’t
I imagine it still weeping
some slow trickle of fluid Something vital and wasted

I remember the ancient story of Roman women
who caught their tears in tiny vials,
and wore them on strings around their necks I wish I had thought of that I wish I had thought of it in time I would have planted azaleas,
pressed them into warm clay pots,
and fed them my salt

I wonder where it came from,
today I mean This image of his face
suddenly becoming itself–him
over the red coils of the toaster,
without warning or any time
to consider what day it is
I think it has been a long time
since I held his face to my memory since I recognized him in a thought
that did not include remembering
the permanence of his absence

The slow letting of time–
a trickle–no
a whisper,
which only becomes loud at its end.

When Women Are Invisible

She waits behind the screen, braced by shadows,
for the men to return to movement This accumulation of fathers and sons,
husbands and brothers propped in the yard
under a late October sky with no women
to remind them of motion The elders
of the five men have taken precautions,
along with the dog, keeping low
against the possibility of wind, which might topple them
like boards onto this flat brown landscape
Perhaps there is a twin photo where the women,
swathed in dark cotton skirts and gingham blouses,
are caught without the leisure of being still One, carrying a basket of wash to be hung
while there is still enough left of the day,
shows her face to the camera by accident–
a small crescent shadow under each eye Another, passing through hazy white air
bearing a goose for Sunday dinner, head down,
concentrates on the weight and remaining warmth of it
She waits just inside the door,
while the two youngest men remain standing,
posed hard as sticks and sullen as the almost leafless tree
against the small explosion, the scattering of flash powder Years later, when she looks at the photo she will remember
the swarm of women inside the house
moving through clouds of blue steam,
from pots of potatoes and squash
to the blood of a newly killed goose,
proving that motion is necessary.

A Moment Passes in the Act of Conversation

The man who cries at movies
sits across from me at Denny’s
and asks me, what should I do
if you begin to weep? Do what’s best
I tell him, and it is settled He shows me the poem
that has been in his back pocket all night,
creased and written by hand I don’t recognize myself
until he says–it’s you
I am in love with poets and painters
so I arrive at this moment
unremarkably And it is not gratitude
I am feeling, rather
it is recognition
He points to the exact moment
of my transformation I am still looking for the glistening heart
beating inside a five hundred year old basket of fruit
When I find it
he will be hungry
and I will feed it to him
word by word.

Drowning Boy

       After “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” by Pieter Bruegel, c 1555

It was a trick or
he was a liar because
the sun has already set
And the father
is nowhere to be seen? And
didn’t he wait

for the boy to find the sky?
The ruse is complete
with sheep and the shepherd’s nonchalance
And what about the dog?
Doesn’t he see
there is a dead man in the bush?

At least three of the birds
are in on the secret,
along with the plowman
Why else wouldn’t he look up?

Will Roby

Bio (auto)

Will Roby is a mule He won last year’s PSH annual contest, and that has to count for
something He is a student at Texas Tech University in beautiful uptown Lubbock, Texas He’s also the editor of Word Riot, a litererary e-zine produced by Communication-Breakdown.

The following work is Copyright © 2002, and owned by Will Roby and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Billboard haiku

now take
credit cards


My father remembers his father
as a cripple The man had

no legs, spent the day rattling
the kitchen tile

sneaking beers My father pushed a wheelchair

until the meat of his hand
bled This is what I live with

now, as he mopes by the
television Ella Fitzgerald

asks “Have you ever heard
two turtledoves?” I’ve heard

china crash on linoleum, sighs
in the night, a can crack and pour

foam before noon I’ve heard you crack your belt;

tell me to get on my knees I’ve heard the sun rise

on the roof
originally appeared in the June 2002 issue of Stirring


I am at high tide My skin crawls
up and down, pulled by the moon, 
a balloon of skin over Galveston Island
I am written in red ink on the ceiling
fan, I fly around the top of your room

You wipe your lips and spit into the sink
You live alone, with a picture of your father, 
a long purple suit Storm windows with their slats, 
nothing but the beep and click of your mother’s
tongue, buried now in Midland but no matter, 

you remember: Sunday afternoon, the radio
up too loud, a tumbleweed inside you, tugging
Your mother rattles, lungs caught together
as she crosses herself, spits out the window
She picks dirt from a thumbnail
You pack gauze into fist-sized rolls, 
plug up the tiny holes that stain your dress

The sun sews heat in the room, no needle
and thread but friction and swish, 
your feet a perfect arc; the new moon
like the television changing channels
A woman passes on the street, 
has wonderful pink skin you’d love to wrap
over yourself, over your head, 
a little give when I push And I push
originally appeared in the May 2002 issue of Stirring

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