by Corey Mesler

Salad Days

  1. a period of inexperience
  2. a heyday

When I have lost everything
I will wait for you. You
can come by the back gate.
We will act as if we were
that couple again, the ones
who wrote the songs the
stars sing, the ones in bed
alive like children about to
set foot on freshly paved roads.


  1. immeasurably deep
  2. shallow

You know that when I say
the things you count on
hearing I am two-faced. I
am the man with a soul so thick
it bleeds poems. I am the one
with thinning hair, whose
lines dry up like lies, whose
lines are rehearsed beyond sense.


  1. a diluted alcoholic drink
  2. a strong alcoholic drink

Fix me again that ptisan which
will turn me into swine. Make
it strong enough to knock the
poet out of me. Water it down
so that I may return from the sty,
a dabbler, a traveler, weak as teas.


  1. Full of pithy expressions.
  2. Full of pompous moralizing.

I cannot wake to the challenge. I know
without the right words that I will
lose you to the dawn. I do not sleep
because the words come out in dribs,
drab as cliché, full of the wind that will
carry you from me, the wind that will
return and return, empty, silvery, bloody, vain.


  1. an expert
  2. a dabbler

In the bedroom of frost
I wrote the lines that took
me out of myself. I woke
up a poet. I woke up a
drunkard. Only you know
my real name. I whisper
it to you when I am at my
best, when I have lost everything.

“All things had opposites close by, every decision a reason against it, every animal an animal that destroys it.”
–Patricia Highsmith


[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 9 novels, 4 short story collections, and 5 full-length poetry collections, and a dozen chapbooks. His novel, Memphis Movie, attracted kind words from Ann Beattie, Peter Coyote, and William Hjorstberg, among others. 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 142 year-old bookstore in Memphis. He can be found at]