Winner of the 2011 Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize
“There is a subtle mind embodied in Meredith Cole’s quick poems, which operate on an odd combination of understatement, inference and smart-aleckness. As the title Miniatures suggests, her poems are often constructs of transience and delicacy from a quasi-Asian tradition—but these values are also challenged and debunked by the wit and pragmatism of a highly American speaker. This collection is a lively, worthwhile and engaging trip.” —Tony Hoagland
“Reading Miniatures made my head spin; it was so perfect and puzzling at the same time. The world of these poems is like ours, but not exactly. Facts are snipped from provocative stories to make sure we don’t know too much. A refrain addresses the reader: ‘you have never been to Japan.’ We are in Japan and Hawaii, among expats and locals, looking in at their relationships, their landscapes, their gardens and fields of daisies, orchids, lilies, as through the windows of a doll house. The poems are like origami — things are tucked and hidden inside, but if you unfold it you lose the beauty, the charm, the strangeness, the enjoyment of fine craftsmanship. Every poem a surprise, a mystery, a thing-in-itself, a world where pain is ‘the famous dewdrop hovering on a leaf,/a man hosing a butcher shop from blood,’ where on a cloudy day ‘Wet fishing nets drop in the far-off sea,’ and where a poem beginning ‘Let’s have a long boring talk about our relationship,/he said on the local that sped through the foreign town/toward a world famous hot spring’ made me laugh. I was charmed and mesmerized by Meredith Cole’s art. You will be too.” —Alicia Ostriker, 2011 contest judge and author of The Book of Seventy
ISBN-13: 978-0-9846353-5-1 $15.00
VIEWS OF A JAPANESE TOWN
Let’s have a long boring talk about our relationship
he said on the local that sped through the foreign town
toward a world famous hot spring. I was thinking
he said about Buddha and how I’ve obsessed
over his teachings but now I realize
Buddha was wrong to leave his wife and kids
to travel to foreign lands.
The local we rode was identical in fact
to trains destroyed by atomic weapons in the second
world war. The rings
knocked together overhead. I wanted to get drunk
in the rain with red ﬂowers falling over me.
I wanted to be as the poets say
enﬂamed. Tiny parking lots rushed past
red ﬂowers blooming here and there.
In each ﬂower, the rain.
In each cup of water existed the future
conversation and its devastating consequences.
Even now, clouds are crossing out the sky,
hiding dimensions with stunning simplicity.
Wet fishing nets drop in the far-off sea.
A boy is moving a cow away.
Orange blossoms blacken and break into dirt.
Though we want to know
what the girl is thinking
as she winds nets in the wind,
we can only return to the sky,
which even now, the clouds are erasing.