by Joseph Meredith
Here are no stars. Who knew?
A dark sun that emanates darkness —
a nuance of blue and darker blue and indigo —
this is what I had. It was mine.
Then something like starlight
glistened on the curve of her eye
and I was gone.
Styx did not stink before I smelled
the Thasian wine on her breath,
the exhalation of her oiled skin.
Phlegethon was not filthy to me
before I drank the Attic wind
that dripped from her hair.
These stones were soft enough
before I hefted that deliberate breast.
Now that she is gone from me,
all that remains is a stinking dog
in a filthy cave howling howling howling
for her to come back.
The poems in Inclinations of the Heart, Meredith's second book of poetry, most often deal with love, both its glory and its sadness. Writing as too few American poets do, Meredith combines Wordsworth's little realities with Yeats' archetypal and mythical patterns. Thematically structured around the "seasons" of life, Inclinations of the Heart is as accessible as it is evocative, as raw as it is lovely.
GAP gods and Yeats, Hera and Judy Collins, nighthawks and wolves. Joe Meredith takes us through the seasons and as he moves us through tales of loneliness and love, images of sex and statues, we only become more "word horny." Meredith's work is accessible while it is evocative, raw while it is lovely.
— Kathleen Volk Miller, Editor, Painted Bride Quarterly
In the poems of Joseph Meredith, an image of 2000-year-old Turkish mosaics rubs up against one of Hartz Mountain bird seed; "the smell of chicken parm and sex" leads to reflections on how much Hades must have loved Persephone; lines about Girl Scout Cookies and Stayfree Ultra Thin Maxis coexist with the "adamantine ambit of the moon" ("Entropy"). The subject matter is most often love — both its glory and the sadness that it "falls apart like houses and men" ("Fall and All That"). Too few American poets write as does Meredith, combining Wordsworth's little realities of life with Yeats' archetypal and mythical patterns — and fewer still do so with his fine craftsmanship. Indeed, some of these poems . . . will stay with one always. Meredith, in one poem ("The Color of Apples"), ponders the difficulty of "finding words for things that have no words." In this book, the reader will find those words.
— James A. Butler, Associate Editor, Cornell Wordsworth Series
Daniel Patrick Moynihan is reputed to have said, at the death of John F. Kennedy, "I don't think there's any point in being Irish if you don't know that the world will break your heart eventually." Meredith's Inclinations of the Heart is filled with that knowledge of broken-hearted loss: of family, of life, of love. While not all the poems are on Irish subjects, so many of them express that sense of Irish heartbreak. What Moynihan's sentiment neglects, however, is the exultant joy of life interspersed with the sorrow. In poems such as "Wedding Vows," "Old House," and "Declaiming Yeats in a Stiff Wind," this poet celebrates the joys of being alive in the world (Irish or otherwise!), through the seasons of the year and the seasons of a life.
— Jane Duffin, Editor, The Irish Edition
This book is available in Kindle, Nook, Sony, Kobo, and Apple E-book formats, for purchase, and through public libraries' Overdrive account, for loan.