The Letter All Your Friends Have Written You by Caits Meissner and Tishon (A Review by Amye Archer)

Well&Often Press

$15.95/76 pgs.

In the preface to The Letter All Your Friends Have Written You, Caits Meissner and Tishon impart to us that they have only been friends for five years, but their poems speak to one another in an older and more established existence.  This is a dual manuscript, a collection of poems by both poets written in distinct and complimentary voices.  And it’s those voices that really round out this collection.  Like two birds in flight, their patterns are varied, their wingspans diverse, yet the tempo between these two poets is an opera, formed from contrasting sounds, blended together to make whole the orchestra of shared experiences.

At times these poems are fraught with sadness, Meissner relates the insecurity so often associated with up adolescence in First Loves:

My face in the mirror has a yellow sheen and I pull fat away from my body with my fingers – just two of the reasons I am sure no breathing man could love me.  “I will not leave you,” you seem to say, just by standing next to me.  In this way perhaps we are married.  perhaps I wasn’t so wrong after all.

Tishon, meanwhile, expresses the same sentiment in Stupid, yet the voice is somewhat harder:

my mother was so upset

and for the first time

she called me stupid

and from that moment

on I hated replacing the

water in the tank

and one by one all the

goldfish died and

I didn’t care.

The poems in this book come of age with the poets, confusing desire with love, need with want, fame with the NBA, but it is the last part, the final quarter of this book that speaks to me so deeply, that moves me so truly, that during my first read through, I had to put it down and walk away.  I had to catch breaths in the pocket of the ladies room at work, before I could come back to these words and allow myself to read them again.  Because this final section, the last sliver of beauty, is about love and loving and lovers and being loved and wanting love and finding love and losing love and trusting love.

In How I Learned to Trust the Water, Meissner writes:

there is nothing left to say

our mouths two sorry instruments

sticky keys, no strings

lay beside me, i will show you a field

my heart, the expanse between mountains

Tishon reacts with Oh Lately It’s So Quiet:

there is only silence and time

it is in the glow of things

the plasmatic one-sided mirrors

that help us fumble quietly

through nights

cushioned by pillows

There is something for everyone in this collection.  Tishon and Caits are individuals, and their poems are living, breathing representations of that fact.  Yet, the melody they create when fused together, is your childhood, your adolescence, your early twenties, your failed relationships, your personal shortcomings… they become every experience that has shaped you into who you are.  Tishon and Caits are your friends, my friends, our friends, and this is a letter I’m so thrilled to have received.


Amye Archer wuz here.