For independent booksellers & librarians, especially Nichelle Hayes.
Frequently during my mornings of pain & reflection
when I can’t write
or articulate my thoughts
or locate the mindmusic needed
to complete the poems & essays
that are weeks plus days overdue
forcing me to stop, I cease
answering my phone, eating right, running my miles,
reading my mail, and making love.
(Also, this is when my children do not seek me out
because I do not seek them out.)
I escape north, to the nearest library or used bookstore.
They are my retreats, my quiet energy-givers, my intellectual refuge.
For me it is not bluewater beaches, theme parks,
or silent chapels hidden among forest greens.
Not multi-stored American malls, corporate book
supermarkets, mountain trails, or Caribbean hideaways.
My sanctuaries are liberated lighthouses of shelved books,
featuring forgotten poets, unread anthropologists of tenure-
seeking assistant professors, self-published geniuses, remaindered
first novelists, highlighting speed-written bestsellers,
wise historians & theologians, nobel, pulitzer prize, and american book
award winners, poets & fiction writers, overcertain political commentators,
small press wunderkinds & learned academics.
All are vitamins for my slow brain & sidetracked spirit in this
winter of creating.
I do not believe in smiling politicians, AMA doctors,
zebra-faced bankers, red-jacketed real estate or automobile
salespeople, or singing preachers.
I believe in books.
It can be conveniently argued that knowledge,
not that which is condensed or computer packaged, but
pages of hard-fought words, dancing language
meticulously & contemplatively written by the likes of me & others,
shelved imperfectly at the level of open hearts & minds,
is preventive medicine strengthening me for the return to my
clear pages of incomplete ideas to be reworked, revised &
written as new worlds and words in all of their subjective
configurations to eventually be processed into books that
will hopefully be placed on the shelves of libraries, bookstores, homes,
& other sanctuaries of learning to be found & browsed over by receptive
booklovers, readers & writers looking for a retreat,
looking for departure & yes spaces,
looking for open heart surgery without the knife.