What Wild-Eyed Murderer

Peter Meinke

We shouldn’t worship suffering: the world’s
a spinning rack where suffering indicates
all goes well we’re alive and not curled
up in the black hushhush death dictates
as its first condition: no screaming there

We crown ourselves with thorns of past
transgressions Sharp spears of deed spare
no rib of pain: around the cross crashed
common lightning usual blood Who earns
our reverence should break both cross and crutch
in the face of suffering: while the rack turns

and tightens they’ll smile at the sense of touch
Suffering’s too common to be worth
anything joy too rare to be priced
The saints we search for will embrace the earth:
what wild-eyed murderer suffers less than Christ?

From The Contracted World: New & More Selected Poems by Peter Meinke © 2006. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Peter Meinke

by this poet

poem
for Gretchen and Herb: June 15, 1991


imagine the very first marriage a girl
and boy trembling with some inchoate
need for ceremony a desire for witness:
inventing formality like a wheel or a hoe

in a lost language in a clearing too far from here
a prophet or a prophetess intoned to the lovers
who knelt