This Is My Body                                                                                                              —Corey Mesler

“I got my guts / I got my muscles / I got life.”  —from Hair

“There are inner sufferings so subtle and so diffuse that we can’t tell
whether they belong to the body or the soul…” —Fernando Pessoa

The softness beneath the
navel, the gasp of hair
on my midriff,
an odor behind each ear,
the palsied eye,
the Sardonicus half-smile,
this is my body.

The mast, the bark of
dark chocolate,
the tang on the tongue,
the song of olive oil,
the meat’s murmur.
This is my body.

The space you left, the black
chamber in my heart.
This is my body.

The grinding of age, its cheap
disguises, its showy
the greying & loss,
the weight,
these knees weak as prayer,
this is my body.

Seven different pills, supplements,
ginger & peppermint, green
tea. No
fried foods, no coffee.
This is my body.

This camphor, this gopherwood.
This of lies, this
snatcher. This mind-body
problem, this
outside of which travel.
This is my body.

The love you showed me,
the brush of your
fingers on my neck, passing
like waft.
The lock of your legs &
mine. The opening, please,
this is my body.

This gut, this ravaged
enemy. This
terrible a.m., this
of animal sense, this clatter in
angry bowels.
Cancer anxiety, infirmities,
this is my body.

This ass, this cock,
these nipples,
this hand,
this hand,
this is my body.

Marrow, gristle, veins, organs,
bones, nails, cysts,
hair, heart & no heart.
This is my body.

Also, dreams & visions,
fantasts, fears that
calcify, unconscious, Jungian
& power, illusions, spirits &
gods & God,
everyday madness:
This is my blood.
This is my body.

Saying to you, whispering,
praying, connecting,
asking, please,
speaking of voiceless things,
this wanton
want. This want, this
is my body.

This kick, this swing, this
hit, the remembered
grace, the lob, the
strike, the shot,
the killshot.
This is my body.

Occasional songs done badly,
simple airs,
hums like spaces
in thought:
this is my body.

This rigidity, these humours, this
insistence like ailment,
this part fitting linking part,
your part held apart,
this need, this goddamn need.
This is my body.

This talk, this reminiscence, this
line of thought. This
billion-year-old carbon, this
sex & death, this
experiment, stories, verse, this opaque
These letters & pilcrows &
Of work,
this is my body.

This dust from stars, this loam below.
The life in the dark.
As above so below.
The ones lost to suicide
& longing, the approximate size
of worlds, dying, colliding,
being born. This Milky Way,
its wormholes, its timelessness, its ability
to wait for me.
It waits for me.
This, this, this is my body. 

Corey Mesler

Corey Mesler has been published in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Gargoyle, Five Points, Good Poems American Places, and Esquire/Narrative. He has published nine novels, four short story collections, and five full-length poetry collections. His novel, Robert Walker, is just out from Livingston Press.  He’s been nominated for the Pushcart many times, and two of his poems were chosen for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. With his wife he runs a 140 year-old bookstore in Memphis. He can be found at

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© 2016