Sunday Apr 14

MeinkePeter Peter Meinke is St. Petersburg’s Poet Laureate. His fiction and poetry have appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The New Republic, Poetry, and many other magazines and anthologies. Among his 20+ books are The Piano Tuner, which received the Flannery O’Connor Award for short fiction, and his newest collection of poems, Lucky Bones (2014), his 8th book in the Pitt Poetry Series. In 2012 he published his book on writing, The Shape of Poetry. He directed the Writing Workshop at Eckerd College for 27 years and has been writer-in-residence in dozens of schools, including Old Dominion University, Davidson College, Hamilton College, and the University of North Carolina/Greensboro. Visit his web site here.


America is entering a golden age of faith.
  President George Bush, May 11, 1990

. . . electric stations of the cross bloom like
stigmata in Mississippi as America
loosens its Bible belt for the millennium

and Verily Verily amplifies over airwaves
Behold wise men from the South hawking
balms in the wilderness O Biloxi O

Lynchburg bearing the portable Word
on Wheels to the mobile homeless burning
rubber for Jesus and calories for life everfasting

and 1000 light years away Carina
with its double star winks while pilgrims
in waxy clusters swerve off thruways mounting

toward Jerusalem under the golden arches
singing Lord I Want To Be A Christian :
Over Ten Billion Saved   and counting . . .


I’ve lied about god all my life
using him to stand for this bright

star I swallowed as a teenager fat pill
flaring in my brain so I could feel

and even see the meaning in a podocarpus
leaf or a child’s fingernail But he’s just

a dangled puppet who today dances
gravely down rows of stones and crosses

stuck in a bleeding field: the hell
with him! On my knees I call

out the names to our granddaughter
podocarpus philodendron   watering

the green shoots  schlefflera jasmine myrtle
Fern: her nails chipped and dark with dirt

 Ode to Our Checkbooks

Their comforting boredom!
Straight lines and tiny boxes
crabbed lists squinted at through glasses
gray covers smoothed from years
of slipping in pockets
It's what things get reduced to:
numbers flat on our asses

How satisfactory to add
and subtract!   to balance
the columns like brooms
wobbling on our chins
as we stagger through our rooms
showing off for the children

We code the history
of our family here: the fire
mortgages   doctors tickets
birthday and anniversary dinners
A numerical chain-gang:
the detritus of desire

And to do this for thirty
fortyfifty years
just the two of us together
alone late at night:
such fidelity is not
our common lot

So when we’re gone though we hoped
for Peace maybe or Love
one can hear whining faintly     Pay
to the Order of . . .
It was our job:
We were counted upon

Dream Analysis

He was lying face down on a couch
the rough fabric reddening his cheek
dust stinging his nostrils stroking
small birds sharp-billed and brown
when the birds turned suddenly into shoes
and a dancing couple loomed above him

Well what do the birds mean? It seemed to him
he belonged either on a shrink’s couch
or in the loony bin   Birds changing to shoes
a bad sign maybe perverse: a chick
could be a girl and that soft little brown
thing he was so fondly stroking

looked pretty suspicious   But wasn’t stroking
good?   Gentle and nourishing?   It scared him
to think he was getting weird. Still isn’t brown
a normal common color or to couch
it in professional terms—which might be cheek-
y for someone in his shoes—

where’s the harm in sublimating shoes
or birds from whatever he was really stroking?
Hey there’s no violence   It was almost chic
exposing a feminine side to him
sensitive to the fabric of a couch
or the color of shoes and birds—especially brown

which is Mother Nature’s color the brown
of earth of leaves of horses whose shoes
kick nervously in the dust . . .   This couch
business was contagious like stroking
his own brain to see what’s inside him:
now we have horses as well as birds and cheeks

and who knows what else?   Even turning the other cheek
in this context sounds raunchy a brown-
out breakdown lurid images waltzing around him
in flickering light   So he imagines he shoos
them off like chickens through straw king
of the inner barnyard prince of the couch

crowing a hymn to Freud and God cheek
by jowl on the fowl couch stroking each other
admiring each other’s brown shoes