Friday, June 8, 2012

I Wish I'd Written This

Revenge of the Trees

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).


  1. Oh Rosemary - I can't tell you how excited I was to see this poet and his work on this page. Neil and I belong to the same poetry group in Edmonton (The Stroll of Poets) and have read together more than a few times. He is a fabulous poet - incredibly prolific and generous (is forever handing out copies - chapbooks - of his latest work)at readings. Did he tell you that he roomed with Robert Brewer during one of the festivals (in Texas, I think) when he was a head-liner there? Small, small world yes? Actually, although I was ill and couldn't attend last September - I believe Neil emceed The Stroll's, back to regular readings after the summer event (we/they did a cowboy theme and he was perfect for it)In any event, thanks for featuring one of my all-time favourite poets!

    1. Oh, how exciting that you know him so well! Indeed a fabulous poet and lovely man. I regard him as an adopted brother, and I am lucky enough to receive all his chapbooks in the mail when they are produced.

      Yes, Robert did mention in his blog that he stayed with Neil when he in his turn was featured at the Austin International Poetry Festival. One could not have a better host, and indeed all the Austin poets are a warm, welcoming bunch.

  2. I LOVE this poem, which absolutely says it all, without the need for any hyperbole. Yes, that thought will linger in my mind for some time - "there may be a problem with the breath." Fantastic poet to feature, Rosemary! Thanks.

  3. Wow, thank you for sharing! I Love trees and his view says so much, especially the last line...whoa!

    So glad you shared Robert with us :D Thank you~

  4. I am going to share this article about Neil with a friend who lives in Austin. I enjoyed it and think she will as well. Thank you for a wonderful write-up, Rosemary.


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