"Do you know what madstones are?" he asks. A metaphor, clearly. A joke, probably. Madstones is the name of Corey Mesler's newest poetry collection, and the Burke's Book Store owner's not above a little fun at his own expense. "They're not actually stones," he explains. "They're regurgitated matter from ruminants like cows and goats. You find them in fields. It was once believed they had magical healing properties."
Mesler connects the idea to his own work: "It's thrown up matter that has some kind of numinous presence to it."
The anklet Barbara Stanwyck wears in Billy Wilder's noir masterpiece, Double Indemnity; TV cowboys; words by Frost and Bukowski; Klaus Kinski's fever dreams; dogs: These are a few items from the buffet table. Mesler's regurgitations are a tangle of old movie stars, TV shows, stories from the nightlife and bright midwinter mornings. "Inauguration Day 2017" begins with crows and beetles and "it will end badly."
"Pop culture is really where I live," Mesler says. "I'd rather watch Double Indemnity than read Proust.
"The title poem means a lot to me because it's the jumping off point for the book. But I like to keep something for the end. And toward the end, there's a poem that kind of speaks for the book. It's called 'Let's Do This.'
"Let's throw a party and invite those people who insult us, who are so edgy they have no middle," he writes. "Let's assume we're all in this together, making it up as we go along, singing the old songs, believing in the newest and best revolutions."
Mesler's hosting a booksigning event on his home turf. He'll be reading selections from Madstones Thursday, November 15th at Burke's.