Corey Mesler

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has prose and/or poetry in Poet Lore, Forklift OH, Rattle, Heat City Literary Review, Three Candles, Quick Fiction, Mid-American Poetry Review, and others. He also has work in the anthologies Full Court: A Literary Anthology of Basketball (Breakaway Books), Pocket Parenting Poetry Guide (Pudding Press), Intimate Kisses: The Poetry of Sexual Pleasure (New World Press) and Smashing Icons (Curious Rooms). His chapbook, Piecework, was published by Wing and a Wheel Press. He won the Moonfire Poetry Chapbook Competition 2003 and his chapbook, Chin-Chin in Eden, was published by Still Waters Press. Another chapbook, Dark on Purpose, is just out from Little Poem Press. And another, The Heart is Open, is due from Mayapple Press. One of his short stories was chosen for the 2002 edition of New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best, edited by Shannon Ravenel.

Love Store
     Ethelbert and Joe opened their store for love with only the best intentions and a little capital borrowed from Joe's Uncle Larry. They had a small storefront next to a Baskin-Robbins and two doors down from a Kinko's, where they went daily to xeroxs copies of love contracts.
     Patrons, initially, were dubious. Business was slow to build. But when the community realized that Ethelbert and Joe were on the level, that love was indeed as sellable as corned beef or horoscopes, they began to frequent the tiny shop in larger numbers.
     What happened was this: a man or a woman would enter the store, sheepishly. It was a bare-bones shop: a long white counter behind which stood the two proprietors, smiling away, and a single poster on the wall, a picture of a kittlen hanging from a chin up bar and the words under it, "Hang in there." This was Ethelbert's poster.
     Once the customer approached, the transaction went fairly smoothly. Paperwork to fill out, identification cards to inspect, and, of course, money to change hands. Then either Ethelbert or Joe would hustle down to Kinko's to make copies of the forms, one for the customer, one for the shop to keep in its files, and one to mail to the place from whence love came. This last bit was a stumbling block for some buyers. It was har to believe in such a place. But Ethelbert and Joe were convincing, this obstacle was normally overcome rather quickly.
     "We gotta get our own copier," Joe or Ethelbert always said when they returned from Kinko's, smiling, handing the customer his or her copy.
     "thank you," the customer would say.
     "No, thank you," Ethelbert or Joe would say.
     "Now what?"
     "Now," and here they would throw their hands out wide like sideshow magicians. "Now, love happens."
     The customer left happy.
     Ethelbert and Joe made a lot of money, so when the conglomerates started sniffing around, making sounds like they were interested in opening chain versions of Ethelbert and Joe's mom-and-pop store, the wily couple had enough to just close up and move away.
     No one is quite sure where they went. They were of retirement age anyway, so probably they went someplace to rest and reap the rewards of years of selling love.
     and, some say, the world is a better place because of Ethelbert and Joe, that there is more love. Perhaps this is true, but Ethelbert and Joe would be the first to tell you, the love was always out there. They were only facilitators. They are humble people. It's safe to say they made love more accessible, easier for some of the less fortunate to understand and undertake.
     Today, most people use or one of the superstores. The small storefront where Ethelbert and Joe had their shop once is a cell-phone store now. But, oddly enough, the poster of the indefatigable cat is still hanging on its off-white wall, Ethelbert's legacy of love.
---First published in Quick Fiction 




Two Crows, September Evening


Two crows argue

in the tree above my porch

where I sit reading:

Toni Morrison’s Paradise.


Later as the sky

turns mercury the crow’s

grow quiet.  They’re

still there though.


I can feel them in the stillness

inside me

between chapters.





Repeat When Necessary


“I’m gonna keep scraping bottom

Till you stop showing up in my dreams.”

                        Amy Rigby



I’ll write this over and over

because you stand there

a white phosphorescence

at the end of the illusion.

I should have known better

than to conjure you.

I shouldn’t have spoken your

name in a crowd.

Now I’m cursed to sit here,

staring at these keys as

if they were keys, writing

poems without your knowledge,

stories tilting precariously

toward ending prematurely.




Lita and the Swan


“Maybe the swan can be an allegorical thingamajig?”

                        my friend, Tom



We know the swan is a man,

a man-god.

We’ve heard the tales, the age-old

tales. And Lita,

her thighs caressed, well, that

makes us sweat.

We think of Lita, her strong body,

her face, a flower opening,

and we quake.

She’s always done this to us,

regardless of wives

and husbands. Nothing stands in the

way of so natural a power.

We envy the swan,

of course, his swagger, his bright

knowledge which impregnates fair

maidens, his

brute blood. And we think of Lita,

always of Lita,

our own sparkling deity, our own

oviparous diamond.