Corey Mesler – Five Poems


Night Voyage

In the dark
I lost my way.
I could hear
the boatman
calling, his
voice like an
echo of an echo.
How far away
am I? Ahead
I think I see
my father
dead now twelve
years. Is he
guiding me, again,
or is he a dis-
traction, like
waves breaking?
Now all is silent.
My father is gone
if my father
it was. And the sea
is dead calm as if
chiseled from marble.


Just a Little

…..“Dead love stories are what make us.”
……………………………………. – Kevin Barry

There was the afternoon
in the brackish pool.
There was the diner—
healthy food, tasteless
in your dazzle. There
was the bookcase, an
excuse to lean together.
And there was the first
naked moment and
the soft incantation:
you can put it in just a little.


In Double Indemnity

….. “How could I know that murder can smell as sweet as honeysuckle?”

In Double Indemnity
much is made
of Barbara Stanwyck’s
anklet. It’s a grace note
in the grey
web of story. Fred
McMurray is one gone
motherfucker, giving up
his freedom, his heart, and
eventually everything
to the idea of Stanwyck’s
love. No one’s heart is
engaged and no one’s heart
is broken. Bring it back
to that anklet. It shines
as every other light
is extinguished;
darkness, sepulchral darkness,
descends, and now
the film closes its steady eye.


Eucalyptus, I Calyptus, We all Calyptus

My friend Ward is a nature poet.
He knows bipinnate vs. odd-
pinnate; he knows the
trails of Nowhere. I am the
man left behind
in the zinc tub, electrodes
attached to his trochee.
I want to write about the bird on
my porch, the one in the
tails and spats. I can only hum.
I can only call him ‘small
brown thing.’ But, listen, after
dark, when nature drowses, I
am in the lab studying. I want
an artificial woman who
will love me the way some
of you love your houseplants.
A human being so divine
it’s as if she is made of no-
thing extant. She would be a god,
and I a godmaker, eternal as a seep.


A Field of Helium

….. “The discovery of a huge helium gas field in East Africa is a ‘game changer for the future security of society’s helium needs’,”
……………………. —– News report, 6/29/16

Society needs helium. That’s the
news. Because we are heavy
bored. Because we need these
loads lightened, the ones we’ve
fashioned ourselves. Today, this
discovery of a field of helium
cheers me. I imagine the
faces of the anxious diggers,
their smiles like children’s.
I imagine their voices, grown
shrill with joy, as they call to
each other over the field.
“Henry, there’s rich helium over
here!” “Greta, I know, here
also, deep, deep helium reserves.”
Back home they cannot sleep,
their minds racing. Their spouses
do not understand, though when
mounted for the first time in
donkeys’ years, they do not complain
or ask for explanation. A whole field
of helium, Rex thinks dreamily,
right before he falls into sleep, dropping
slowly, like a balloon expiring,
into a dream about flying, gentle flying.


Corey Mesler has been published in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Gargoyle, Five Points, Good Poems American Places, and Esquire/Narrative. He has published 8 novels, 4 short story collections, and 5 full-length poetry collections. His two most recent novels are Memphis Movie, and Robert Walker. He’s been nominated for the Pushcart many times, and 2 of his poems were chosen for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. With his wife he runs a 140 year-old bookstore in Memphis. More at: