by Neil Meili
There will come a time - maybe soon
When you have cut down and burned
so many of us that we will no longer
be able to give enough of our gift
to burn any more
Not nearly enough for combustion
in internal combustion engines
of chainsaws and D-9 Cats
It is true you will still have
your double bitted axe
and cross cut saw
but there may be a problem
with the breath
Neil Meili is a Canadian who has now lived a long time in Austin, Texas — though he still makes frequent visits back home too. He and his partner, Dorsey Cartwright, a psychotherapist, kindly put me up when I visited Austin in 2006 for the (annual) International Poetry Festival. They instantly became family.
Thom the World Poet, who many years ago initiated the cafe poetry scene in Austin, which happens at various venues most nights of the week, told me that Neil was one of the poets who supported and encouraged this endeavour. ‘He was always there,’ said Thom.
A man of many parts, in his time Neil has been a cowboy and a pilot, and more recently a town planning consultant. Often he also works with Dorsey when she presents workshops in a type of therapy called Voice Dialogue, which addresses the many selves we have within us. He has written poems based on Voice Dialogue. This link leads to some of these, and some by another poet, in a viewable or down-loadable pdf.
His poems are deceptively simple and straightforward. They say what they have to say, and then stop. It is when they linger in the mind long afterwards that you begin to realise their depth and delicacy. The wry understatement of Revenge of the Trees is typical too.
He publishes them in chapbooks via New Texas Press. Poems from some of the earlier volumes appear on his website and are still listed on Amazon, but he admits the website needs considerable updating and that he has not made arrangements to sell the more recent volumes online. Pity! I think he just gets better and better. Here’s a recent piece I love:
Edmonton - Late September
The leaves are dancing down the street
Leaves like the thousand children
that I never had with you
A skip, a dash, a lovely pirouette
then past, and gone
Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).