Sunday, June 23, 2019



That must be why the library
looks so much like a mausoleum.
So many corpses of various sizes
are coffined in its dark rooms.

It’s all language and pictures anyhow.
And isn’t that what phones are for?
Your second best friend has more to say
than Emerson or Hawthorne.

And, besides, her face is grinning
up at you from the parking lot at Walmart.
There’s cars and shoppers in the background.
But not a literary lion in sight.

You’re in a coffee shop texting fiercely.
A TV screen on a back wall is
showing a subtitled Fox and Friends.
If it doesn’t popup or roll across a screen,

then there’s just no reading it.
There was a time when the café was a way of life,
a continuing education of writers, musicians,
philosophers and artists.

The conversation was combative or communal
and sometimes even both.
No laws. No limits. No exclusions.
And there were always those on the periphery,

half-listening, half with their heads in a novel.
But every word, every point of view,
was birthed somewhere. sometime
in the pages of a book.

And, moments alone, sent the cognoscenti
reaching for a volume, not an IPod.
“Reduced hours” says the sign on the library door.
“Budget cuts” is the typical explanation.

Anyone in America can still grow up to be president.
But a librarian is a different story.

--John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in
Midwest Quarterly, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work
upcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review and the Dunes

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