Florida Poet Laureate Peter Meinke finds inspiration in strange places

How do you like them apples?

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                                               WORMS IN PALERMO


                                                          Language

                                                    falls around me

                                         like apples from a music tree

                                      tasting like gravity   I bite a word

                                  with a worm in it:  the worm stands for

                               insecurity   But what does insecurity stand               

                              for?   Some days I think I’ll stand for anything:  I’m such a worm

                               A noun plops on my head like a Granny Smith

                                A verb zings through the air:  right between

                                     the eyes!   Though it zaps me down

                                          to size  I don’t lie down alone

                                            but with my friends i vermi

                                                   grace notes to the

                                                             bone

                                                       

When the first lines of this poem fell on my head, I was thinking of the scientist Isaac Newton (1643-1727). We all know the story about how the great man was sitting in his garden with a friend when an apple dropped from a tree, bouncing off his noggin and triggering the theory of gravity: “Why does an apple drop straight down and not otherwise?” Eureka! Newton himself told this story — perhaps without the actual head-bonking, though I think he had a bit of the poet in that fertile mind of his. For a week or two I called the poem “Newton,” but as it rolled along he disappeared like a fallen apple. My “Eureka” moment in this poem came when the worm crawled right out of the middle of it. Yes! Hence, we can deduce that hypothetical Eureka discoveries can be of cosmic or comic importance.

—Peter Meinke’s new collection, Tasting Like Gravity, illustrated by Jeanne Meinke and named from this poem, has just been published by the University of Tampa Press.

click to enlarge Sir Isaac Newton. - Jeanne Meinke
Jeanne Meinke
Sir Isaac Newton.


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