The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Peter Meinke



When Apollo ruled the hills
curving far as eye could see
through their Grecian greenery
birds and fish and animals
panted as his lyre played
all day long while little stones
clicked in lithic semitones
till the Tablets had their say
Gods are here to calm us all:
if they don’t we need new gods
Life’s a gamble with bad odds
fingered over Daniel’s walls
fading slowly through the years
lit by mirrors that reveal
mask on mask but on them real
tears on top of painted tears
Animals have souls that sleep
dreamlessly beneath the trees
careless of their destinies
neither tragical nor deep
Thou shalt not is not their tune
Graven images float by
unperturbed incurious eyes
under our incurious moon
Easy to burn cynical
rational in our disgrace:
scandals trumpet sex and race
pulpits spin political
half the journals in the land
embedded like a guilty lover
wailing from beneath their covers
brassy as an Army band
But youngsters on the beach hold hands
real as rings or tablets  and—
Look—some more . . . !  Understand
this and then you’ll hear the sands
singing on the coastal plain
diamonds under heaven’s light
harmonizing through the night:
miracles against the grain
Still sadness multiplies with age
and below the tombstones lie
bones that pull us down to die
Join them on the final stage
punch your ticket kiss the ground
Say goodby to all you love
Say hello to all you love
Exit only:  round and round


Peter Meinke

Burnt Toast


After the children had grown and flown after the friends
turned deaf and left after the bees had dried and died
and the silky azaleas grew jaded and faded
then soon the jokes repeated defeated the knives got bent
and lost their edge the letters dropped unstamped and stopped
and even the scars were healed and sealed with love
curled up in a patched-up cup and nothing surprising from night
till day so the flattish wine neither bubbles
nor babbles and the plastic glasses never clink
with milk to drink
and zilch
to say




PETER MEINKE is Poet Laureate of Florida.  His most recent books are Lucky Bones (poems, 2014)—his 8th book in the Pitt Poetry Series--The Expert Witness (stories, UT Press 2016), and To Start With, Feel Fortunate (a collection of his Poet’s Notebook columns that received the 2017 William Meredith Poetry Award). He’s given readings throughout America, including at the Library of Congress, as well as at universities in Europe and Africa.  He’s married to the artist Jeanne Clark Meinke, who has illustrated many of his books.


Previous | Next