Thursday, December 13, 2007

Four themed poems by Corey Mesler

Four poems
by Corey Mesler

Sure, God’s at the Top

On the stairway to heaven

there’s no handrail.

One final test, a test

of balance. I’m the one who

walks to the edge,

as close as I dare with my

vertigo, to peer over.

What lies beneath this empyrean

stepladder? Another earth,

perhaps, another series of

officious and evil courtrooms.


My God

"The apophasis therefore lies in ...the sharp distinction in character between the Depth and the Cross, the inaccessible God and the Man of Sorrows, the almost 'crazy' manifestations of God's love for humanity, and a humble and unobtrusive plea for our own love." (Olivier Clement, from The Roots of Christian Mysticism)

"God is an overwhelming responsibility." (Ian Anderson)

My God is crazy; it

might be the heat.

I wake to find him

rifling through my sock drawer

and startled he whips around

guilty as hell.

Other times I've seen him,

dancing in silhouette

on the hill beyond this town,

with Jane and the Bishop

and he seems fevered lately.

His great brow

furrowed like the fallow fields;

maybe he's confused by what he

has created.

My God, I say,

take a step back and get some


"Perspective," he repeats,

like one in a dream.

I'm beginning to worry for him,

distracted like this,

what with the traffic so heavy,

and that biosphere thing.

It's not like we need him

any worse than ever.

It's more like having him around,

authoritative and severe,

keeps the clergy honest.

Do we still have to be good?

I quiz him, just to check,

and he answers, without pause,

"Good as an addled egg."

That kind of talk helps no one,

I remind him,

and he drifts away like smoke,

looking for a better world, perhaps,

someplace where it's not so hot.

"The meerkat was still a fine idea,"

I yell after him,

but he doesn't hear me,

troubled by a black hole somewhere,

something else to darn.



“I don’t know what sort of a God we have been talking about.” Kabir (Robert Bly, trans.)

When I was ten I worshipped Him

like the acolyte I was.

I borrowed collar and robes from the

church and held services

in Bobby Dorich’s bedroom. Bobby

served grape juice.

As my family left the church, one by

one, first my mother,

who lost her faith to her depression,

then my brother and finally

my father, who at one time was vice

president of the congregation,

I followed family instead of creed. I,

too, doubted. Proudly. And, with

puberty, high school, and then college

with its requisite Camus and Sartre,

I was a man chained to a dry rock.

Now I am a another man: husband, father,

business owner. And God is

a new concept again, as fresh as returned

sight. It is not the same

God I feigned in Bobby’s bedroom.

It is a God who hurts and burns and disfigures.

And through this initiation,

a different supplicant: pray for me, you who have

a faith more cohesive, a knowledge more peaceful.


Simple, Unbending Faith

I like the kind of nimbus

the sun makes

around your bird-nest hair

when I pick you up and

hold you like a prayerbook,

my only saint and daughter.

Author bio:

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 Turnrow, Rattle, Pindeldyboz, Quick Fiction, American Poetry Journal, Thema, Mars Hill Review, Adirondack Review, Poet Lore and others. He has also been a book reviewer for The Memphis Commercial Appeal and Memphis Flyer. A short story of his was chosen for the 2002 edition of New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best. Talk, his first novel, appeared in 2002. His 2nd novel, We Are Billion-Year-Old Carbon, came out in January 2006. His latest poetry chapbooks are The Hole in Sleep (2006), The Agoraphobe’s Pandiculations (2006), Publisher (2007) and The Chloe Poems (2007). His poem, “Sweet Annie Divine,” was chosen for Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. His first full-length collection of poetry, Some Identity Problems, is due out in 2007. He also claims to have written “Dang Me.” Most importantly, he is Toby and Chloe’s dad and Cheryl’s husband. He can be found at Corey Mesler.

Editor's note: "My God" appeared originally in Rhino.

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