Scrap Metal Mantra Poems


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Product Description

poems by

Ken Meisel

Poetry chapbook, 40 pages, cover price $11

($5 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)

ISBN: 978-1-59948-420-4

Release date: 2013

About The Author



Ken Meisel

Ken Meisel is a poet and psychotherapist from the Detroit area. He is a 2012 Kresge Arts Fellow and a Pushcart Nominee, and the author of five poetry collections. They are Beautiful Rust (Bottom Dog Press, 2009), Just Listening (Pure Heart Press, 2007), Before Exiting (Pure Heart Press, 2006) and Sometimes the Wind (March Street Press, 2002). The chapbook version of Just Listening won the 2006 Swan Duckling chapbook contest. Meisel’s publication credits include Cream City Review, Concho River Review, San Pedro River Review, Rattle, River Oak Review, Byrant Literary Review, Main Street Rag, Boxcar Review, Otis Nebula, Third Wednesday, Ruminate, Muddy River Poetry Review, The Chaffin Journal and Lake Effect.


Ken Meisel’s new collection pays poetic homage to his working class roots in Detroit and the Middle West. Mr. Meisel’s poetry is filled with contemplative love for place, and he takes us there through his original, fresh imagery that helps us all to better know and understand “what work is.” This writer knows the neighborhoods and lives of the working class inside and out, and through his deep detailing and his language, Meisel offers us all a chance to better understand who we are and what we should become. I believe Ken Meisel is one of the finest poets to come “straight outta Motown.” He truly knows and understands our city and its people. The Scrap Metal Mantra offers us all a sense of peace and hope in this new world of socio-economic challenge. It is a poetic prayer for all of America to meditate upon.

–M. L. Liebler,
Editor of Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams


The beautiful in Meisel is tinged with mortality and transience, giving it an anguished intensity. There is a shadow in his vision that never allows the poems to become facile exercises in the bucolic. It seems a point of honor with Meisel to register the violence, suffering, and death that are also a part of the natural world. His portraits of the addicted, the callous, the empty, and the broke possess a clear eyed toughness free of sentimentality or blame.

–Lance Wilcox,
Associate Editor of River Oak Review



At the Blue Diamond Lounge

Soft glow of dancers patrolling the dance floor with each other,
flaunt and gallop of busty girls in two step, in mambo-tango and men

in full cowboy hats, cowhide boots, jewel studded belts, mustaches,
melt and jump of glitzy women leaping up into men’s upheld arms

in jolt and frenzy, in twist and twirl, in lyrical circus, in stiffened
celebration as the Mexican Accordion Band parades the tango

forward through exuberant citrus frolic, through harlequin dovetail
furrow as we sip our tequila, here on Campbell Street at Vernor,

Christmas lights of Mexican Town flamboyant, glowing men and girls
in rows at Duly’s eating coney dogs at 2 am, Manny collecting pay.


–For Jeff Alfier & Tobi Cogswell

One by one they arrive in parkas, the vans idling behind them,
and a pit fire singeing the autumn night with aggressive flames,

and an exhausted, dissected building looming beyond them-
an empty glass factory rotting from too much after moisture

and years of squatters, looting and neglect. Its roof opened up,
green tree tops swimming into nighttime stars, and feral dogs

biting the mist as they skulk low, growling into tangled scrap dens
as the intruders scoot them away with high powered water guns

while other men sling rope, and drag the scrap metal and copper
out of the building like torn arteries from a body lying unconscious.

They’ve come here from the east side and the west, from all parts
of the city where the hunger bites hardest, some of them young,

some with wallets full of baby pictures, some from Kentucky,
some old and drunk, and already worn out, mouths stuffed

with cigarettes and slogans, some like Lewis & Clark on expedition.
All of them canvassing for gold, for the riches of the after burn-

as if the buildings of the city were really just the remaining ruins
of a long ago grounded ship lying beached, its death giving wealth.

And one of the men rips out taut steel, hoists it up in his hands,
as if he’s discovered royal gold in an abandoned tomb or palace.

And another, his eyes manic, expressive as owls in darkness,
stampedes out of the rooms of the factory, as if he’s found life.
Automotive Wedding, Packard Junkyard, Piquette Avenue

I kissed you in a swarm of abandoned Packards.
Heard a junkyard quartet of noisy sparrows

and grackles greeting us as we entered the church
of suspension frames and rusted transmissions.

The best man and the maid of honor stood at attention
outside a 71′ Gran Torino. Walked in front of us

along a path of chrome bumpers till we stood
there in front of the reverend who held a car manual.

We were married there amongst the feral cats.
Said vows full of factory rhetoric. He married us

amongst a noisy tangle of twisted rose briar shrubs
underneath a sloping archway of leafy witch hazel.

We crawled in and out of dusty back seats to find out
where we belong. Found our fortune on our hands and knees

looking for your wedding ring amongst steering columns
and rusted tire rims. Found the way to Heaven

stretching our bare legs out together in the vinyl seats
watching the drive-in movie of stars and lightning

rising over the Fisher Plant and Detroit Stamping.
Grilled our wedding dinner in a fire pit outside

the swinging door of a 55′ Packard for wind shelter.
Made love together to the morning traffic’s roar.


If you would like to read more of Scrap Metal Mantra Poems by Ken Meisel, order your copy today.

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