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Poems by Peter Meinke

The First Marriage
By Peter Meinke

imagine the very first marriage a girl
and boy trembling with some inchoate
need for ceremony a desire for witness:
inventing formality like a wheel or a hoe

in a lost language in a clearing too far from here
a prophet or prophetess intoned to the lovers
who knelt with their hearts cresting
like the unnamed ocean thinking 'This is true'

thinking they will never be alone again
though planets slip their tracks and fish
desert the sea repeating those magic sounds
meaning I do on this stone below
this tree before these friends yes in body
and word my darkdream my sunsong yes I do I do

(from SCARS, U. of Pittsburgh Press 1996)
© 1996 copyright Peter Meinke

 


The Secret Code
By Peter Meinke

 

Bach was rising from another room

like a secret code in a mathematician's castle
when you came toward me in a summer dress
light slatted through the oaken banister
like a secret code in a mathematician's castle

floating down the stairway in the afternoon
light slatted through the oaken banister
an idea of harmony made manifest
floating down the stairway in the afternoon
striping your slender body like a strobe
an idea of harmony made manifest

The music wound you in a golden braid
striping your slender body like a strobe
and Bach and April and undying youth

like music wound you in a golden braid
conspiring until I knew the dream
of Bach and April and undying youth

would cling across the downward years
conspiring until I knew that dream
despite the disharmonic tarnishing of time
would cling across the downward years
and fuse our lives together like a fugue
to spite the disharmonic tarnishing of time

Then all turned mysterious and blessed
and fused our lives together like a fugue
when you came toward me in a summer dress
turning all mysterious and blessed

while Bach was rising from another room

(from SCARS, U. of Pittsburgh Press 1996)
© 1996 copyright Peter Meinke

 


Liquid Paper
By Peter Meinke

Smooth as a snail, this little parson
pardons our sins. Touch the brush tip
lightly and--'abracadabra!'--a clean slate.

We know those who blot their brains
by sniffing it, which shows
it erases more than ink
and with imagination anything
can be misapplied . . . In the army,
our topsergeant drank aftershave, squeezing
my Old Spice to the last slow drop.

It worked like Liquid Paper in his head

until he'd glide across the streets of Heidelberg
hunting for the house in Boise, Idaho,
where he was born . . . If I were God
I'd authorize Celestial Liquid Paper
every seven years to whiten our mistakes:
we should be sorry and live with what we've done
but seven years is long enough and all of us

deserve a visit now and then
to the house where we were born
before everything got written so far wrong.

(from LIQUID PAPER: NEW & SELECTED POEMS, U. of Pittsburgh Press, 1991)
© 1991 copyright Peter Meinke


Back to Peter Meinke: The Man and the Works
by Patricia Lieb


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