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The Drunken Sweetheart at My Door Paperback – January 1, 2015
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As an introduction, he mentioned that he was going to read a poem "celebrating the power of a woman's voice." Without even hearing the poem, I was moved. It is always such an honor to hear a man give honor and respect and praise to women.
I began to take notes.
When me stepped into the line: "I saw/ a woman struck by her husband. It was almost delicate.." I could feel the juxtaposition between 'delicate' and 'struck'; between delicacy as a state and the impact of being struck. (from "Woman Releasing a Tongueless Swallow from Her Violin")
For a brief second, I had flashbacks. I stopped listening.
I purchased the book because of the poem, alone.
The Drunken Sweetheart at My Door is a masterful collection of poetry. It is quite obvious that Ken Meisel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. Reading his poetry, it becomes obvious that Meisel is in touch with inner attitudes and dispositions; reading each poem, it is obvious that he has an in depth understanding of the inner subvocalizations of men and the inner memories of women as well.
I enjoyed "Learning to Taste the Chocolate". I enjoyed the transparency of a man's thoughts in this poem the most. Just past the middle of the poem I read, "I wonder if she ever actually thinks about my body in that lusty,/ out-of-control way that I dream of her body..." And as he learns to taste the chocolate, as he learns to let go, I experience his lesson, too. I wonder if any man has wondered about me that way. I wondered if I am thought of.
Two poems later, I was moved by "Adolescence".
...She was about to take
the leap that all girls take when their skin
changes, and suddenly the stirring of their
deepermost feelings, which sit safely
locked underneath the compress of skin
for years, emerge somehow as wildflowers
or a sudden rain storm of giggles, and then
everything is different, alive somehow,
like an unleashed current of passion.
And I wondered if I had ever written about my own adolescence into womanhood as clearly, as beautifully as he has. As I read the poem, all I could think was, "Yes."
At the end of this poem, I realized that Meisel is a master of conclusions, a master in knowing where the final period falls. Somehow, "so she could kiss it" not only ends the perfect sentence, it also justifies and enlightens the entire poem.
I noticed that I liked his endings with only two or three words on the last line the most. The brevity of their accuracy was breath taking.
I loved "finding flame" which concludes "The Girls at the Vista Maria Home for Truants". I loved "poetry to us" which ends "My Fingers Move Across the Typewriter Keys in an Effort to Find You".
And I realized he had mastered the final phrase of every poem because he has mastered phrasing in general. He does, with his poetry, what I only hope to do with my prose. Using appositives among other phrasings, Meisel has the knack of using a well placed comma.
The repetition is beautiful, hypnotic.
The repetition of "not" and "with" in the first poem "Matinee"; the repetition of "like" and "now" in "Some Purple Violets at the Market"; the use of different phrases modifying a single word is powerful. Perfect.
I have several favorite poems. I love "Strip Clubs, Tampa" and "She Was Caressing Me" the most.
I often wondered how women ended up as porn stars and strippers and prostitutes; I often wondered how way leads onto way. Yet, I never could capture my wonderment as beautifully as Meisel did.
And "She Was Caressing Me" may be the most perfect poem I've read in years. It has the perfect opening, the perfect close. The last four lines are almost too much for me to bear.
I enjoyed this poetry book. Secretly, I knew a poetry book that begins with an epigraph by Rumi would not lead me astray.
I highly recommend The Drunken Sweetheart at My Door to all who love literary poetry, poems that show up beautiful and slanting across the page.