Spoken Word Review: Peter Meinke

Peter Meinke read a selection of his poems and short stories at the Inaugural Friends of Mirror Lake Library (of which I am a member) event. I seem to be unable to appreciate poetry in its written form. Listening to poetry being read completely captivates me.

The following is my favorite poem from the night.

The Bookshelf by Peter Meinke (The Contracted World)

Lying flat on the floor because I'm old
and it's good for my back
counting coins of dust in the twilight
and squinting at the books huddled above me
like immigrants in ragged overcoats
guarding their family secrets
I think You have cost me everything:
stoopshouldered nearsighted soft and white
as a silverfish caught in the binding

of The Complete Works of Henry James
from hours days decades spent bent
over your pages when I could have been
pruning azaleas or hitting tennis balls with real people

Now I've been down so long

I'm too stiff to get up or even reach for a book

so I call for help not expecting an answer
but from the stern and shadowed shelves
Emma and Anna and all the lost inaccessible
women above my cry out with their special accents
words I understand only from their rhythm and inflection
O sorrow they say all of them over and over
Carrie and Carol and Cora and Julia sorrow o sorrow Catherine and Scarlet
and Sonja and Daisy o sorrow sorrow
Molly o sorrow Wendy sorrow Dora Maud Helen Hester
and I like any man who has blindly loved
understand too late as unhappy endings pour down
just sentences on their weeping and guilty prisoner
pinned to the floor by threads
of vanishing light