Shelf Life

Imagine: You're in a bar, and William Blake walks in, only to be shown the door when he says to the first woman he sees, "Hey, Angel."

Or imagine: You're in a bar, the last bar on earth, and Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, Larry Rivers, and Jasper Johns walk in for some beers, and they don't get shown the door. But that bartender, wiping glasses and lost in thought . . . he could be Mephistopheles. He is Mephistopheles.

Or: Raymond Carver and John Lennon are standing on a train platform. The train's due, and Carver has a notebook. Lennon holds a paper sack. But they're too shy to speak. Unknown to Carver — how could he know? — that sack of Lennon's is full of magic acorns. End of scene. End of "At the Train Station," a poem by Corey Mesler, just one of the dozens of poems in Mesler's Some Identity Problems (FootHills Publishing).

That's where we meet Blake being shown the barroom door and those poets and painters inside the last bar on earth. That's also where Mesler — poet and novelist, owner of Burke's Book Store and contributor to Memphis magazine — remembers his late father, reinterprets a Greek myth, revisits the Garden of Eden, recalls past romance, reconsiders the writing life, and generally goes (as he does in the collection's opening poem, "Pellicle") "where my head goes when it roams." By "My God" (the collection's closing poem), God's rummaging through the poet's sock drawer. God knows what He finds. M



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