Peter Meinke

The Sailor’s Love Song and Irish Whiskey
November 24, 2018 Meinke Peter

The Sailor’s Love Song


When I was young I burned to be
a sailor on a chancy sea
where I could handle any fight
with fist or kiss or clever flight
free from church and state decree

But when the song seeped out of me
I bought the job and family
and town I thought a gutless blight
when I was young

Now leaves turn yellow on our tree
and yellowing skin swells tonelessly
above my belt  while every night
I kneel on aging knees that might
first have shaken on your balcony
when I was young


Irish Whiskey


I’ve liked to drink since I was ten:
a sip of whiskey in the den
with Grandma and her sisters who
played pinochle and games of Clue
killing time without their men

From County Cork and Monaghan
their husbands sailed and worked and then
soon and sooner off they flew:
they liked to drink

Grandma loved me hard so when
she saw the trouble I was in
she hugged me till my face went blue
but gave me no advice: She knew
She said a prayer I said Amen
We liked to drink.

Peter Meinkewas the first Poet Laureate of St. Petersburg, and now is Poet Laureate of Florida. He has eight books in the Pitt Poetry Series, the latest being “Lucky Bones” (2014). He’s published two books of short stories, “The Piano Tuner,” which received the 1986 Flannery O’Connor Award; and “The Expert Witness” (2015). A collection of his essays, “To Start With, Feel Fortunate’” received the 2017 William Meredith Award. He and his wife, the artist Jeanne Clark Meinke, have lived in St. Petersburg for over fifty years. His most recent book is “Tasting Like Gravity” (U. of Tampa Press, 2018);