The Athenaeum, Rhode Island

 

We are all poets

Reacting to poets

Reacting to life.

To hope otherwise

Is to posit

Words sprung

Breathing

And

Rich laden 

From the

Dull earth.

 

In the Athenaeum,

Their letters,

Heavy as lead,

Thrust

Implacable

Into dented trees.

 

They tower, 

Sinister

And far

From new,

A legacy,

An inspiration -

Filled with 

Greater thoughts

Than me

Or dreams

Of you.

 

Poe, 

In alcove caption,

Speaks of suicide

Before a wedding.

How happy then

The weeping and 

Unknowing bride?

In wordless explanation

A daguerreotype

Shows the

Weary baggage

Of his 

Woe-travelled

Eyes.

 

Lovecraft,

A twin in horror

And next-door

Neighbor

To this place,

Devours houses

With an octopus.

Not the one

To ask for sugar

In a pinch,

Or the time

Of the next

Omnibus.

 

And yet

The threat,

Is not 

The past,

But the

Silence

Of

The empty

Chairs.

 

Who cares

To read

Or wish

They might

Succeed

And write

What

Other people

Read

More than

These?

 

Who strives

To understand

The lightning

That still 

Survives

The storm

And shipwreck 

Of such

Shattered lives?


 

The pendulum

In the pit

Swings with

Polished glints,

And empty 

leather chairs

Gleam ghostly

Hints

Of nightmares

That may lead

To waking

Consequence.

 

A coffee shop

Perhaps

With nick-knacks

On the shelves

Instead of books.

And USB

To charge our

Souls

And bring back

Magic

To our 

Fading selves.

 

The books

Still here,

For now,

Are marred

By spots

Of Poe -

The Dance

Of the Red

Death.

 

Acid decay

Burns holes

As one

Loan scholar

Weeps

To see 

Brown stains

Of binding

Glue,

Discolored

As it

Seeps.

 

Few others

Care

To look -

Their eyes

Grown dull

By glistening

Prints

Of glossy

Magazines.

 

And inside

Fashionable slacks,

Their fingers

Circle

And long

To press

The precious

Pocket-lotus

Slabs

That call

For their

Caress.

 

And yet I sit,

In reverie

And hushing bliss

A poet for

A stolen moment

Making something -

Writing this.

 

Were libraries

Not always

Thus?

One-time

Theaters

Of furtive

glances

And forbidden

Lust?

Or rain-proof

Sanctuaries

For dripping

Students

With an essay

Late

And rushed?

 

And would

Coffee

With an aging

Book

Not make

The letters

Sing and dance

Upon the page

And bring them

Waltzing to

The present age,

Despite the

Leering looks

Of each librarianís

Disapproving

Rage?

 

By fearing

To destroy

The past,

Untouchable

And vast,

We surely

Settle for

A pretty

Masque

And lose deep

Knowledge

Of ourselves

And what

We might

Surpass.

 

No matter

What we

Seek

To find

In blinding

Day

Or bookish

Night,

A thirst for

Thrills

And fear of

Spills

Are surely 

Part

Of Each

Adventure

Of the

Mind.


© 2019 Gavin Miller. All rights reserved.