Three Poems by Corey Mesler

Walking the Mall Cork City by Jo and Sue Keys

Hello Cruel World

Give it your best shot.
Try not to think
about firearms or the
president, a lowlife
highjacker. Walk around
& listen to the people
who talk about florae,
or homemade bread, or
the book someone wrote
which just sums it all up.
Connect to the mouths
& ears & tell yourself
this is best we can do.
But it’s not. It’s simply that
corruption is stronger than
the love of strangers, as
rust is stronger than swingsets.
It’s fucked up & you can only
look ahead & hope for
something better. You say,
with aplomb & terror, with
faith & fever, & with the
strength too often elusive,
oh, yes, hello cruel world.



A barefoot woman

“Be the flame, not the moth.”
–Giacomo Casanova


A barefoot woman, a
bush budding.

A winding path, a

The saw of wasps in
the eave, the

small brown tit in the
dust. O why has the bare-

foot woman come? To see
me, my friends, to

touch me the way humans do,
and to be touched, extravagantly.



There was the white dress

There was the white dress, the
original white dress, the
first night,
in the P&H, you with a
large group, me struck.
There was the striped shirt
you pulled over
your golden head and your
freckles went round and round.
There was the underwear you
said you bought for me,
which killed me,
which kills me.
And there was the scent left
in the sheets, honeysuckle
and sweat, and the way
you said my name, wide-eyed,
when I came into you.
And, finally, there was the darkness
you left behind,
the negative of you,
the absence where once there
was gold and flesh and, oh, need.



Corey Mesler has been published in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Gargoyle, Five Points, Good Poems American Places, and New Stories from the South. He has published nine novels, four short story collections, and five 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 three of his poems were chosen for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. He also wrote the screenplay for We Go On, which won The Memphis Film Prize in 2017. With his wife he runs a 143 year-old bookstore in Memphis. He can be found at

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