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The Library at Closing Time


David W. Parsley

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David W. Parsley

                    The Library at Closing Time

  

As he approached the stark gray metal detectors

the man who wanted his pharynx mended

the man shouldering past the murmurers in the garden entry

saying go back and save the only one that you can

 

By the time he strode under flickering fluorescents

strobing those of us in the checkout line

the folded armed librarian now certain no one was

coming to pick up some lost kids of Jean-Paul and Simone

efficiently deshelving works not recently received

 

He composed himself like a discovery self-sudden ready

to navigate the carnage of dislodged tomes

stepping over gold-bound communiqués

slender piths and testimonials where Lorca lay bleeding

selecting from counters whole cultures at a time

 

When he had gathered himself

like Van Gogh’s sheaf shearer

like a shifting pile of maps and doubloons

tottered past Whitman’s whimsical bust near the exit

 

I say when he bounded the door with some of us following

stopped at the spectacle of stars kindling ancient grills

all the old rough beasts slouching down from the hills

songbirds daring duskfall to perch along the lines of budding

 

When he turned then to our silent questioning

allowed our hands to share the casual rite of unburdening

we saw how much he wanted to tell us this is how it could be

whenever we want it to be

 

That this is the journey too to remember what we came for

what we have always known to come for

and that nobody is ever saved alone

everybody is in the same line of work and we can be

 

 

previously unpublished

© 2017 David W. Parsley

Parsley Poetry Collection

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It has been decades since I have been to a library, and I always loved the library. There was the public library in the town where I grew up, the college library in that same hometown, to a lesser extent my high school library, and in later years the law library open to the public in the superior courthouse. Then came the internet, and most everything could be accessed conveniently from the comfort of home. But really, metal detectors? Armed librarians? Is this for real? I don't think I could stomach it.

The poem is unmistakably Parsley, albeit with a hint of Heaney. The man who reminds us is a relic like Jethro Tull's Aqualung, yet unoffensive. There is the mention of "ancient grills," and I read girls and hills. Am I that relic as I stumble, in a drunken stupor, repeating the last few words I hear like Dougie Jones in David Lynch's Twin Peaks twenty-five years later? Could be ... came for ...

Remember what we came for. And I am again reminded that "nobody is ever saved alone," how in this life we don't need money, we need each other. I stand in awe.

Tony

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Hi David, I keep coming back to this and find it almost eirry. .  i can see the cross armed librarian impatiently waiting for the kids to be picked up,so she can put things in order and close up. Like Tony I've not been inside a library for a long time although I've picked up a grandchild from the library where she went with the pretext of working on a school project with a a friend but in reality as an excuse to just hang out with several.  It turned out not much work got accomplished.  I hope the kids weren't too disruptive.  

Too me libraries were always silent vaults and I was afraid I was going make a sound that would echo throughout and angry stares would be directed toward me.  Interesting how imagery can bring forth emotions long forgotten.  

I am sure more will surface as come back again and again.

~~Tink

 

 

 

 

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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Very readable setting and narrative. Perhaps Van Gogh was a tangent, took me away from the written word. The title is a definite hook.

 

enjoyed

 

badge

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Oh, I like this part SO much:

efficiently deshelving works

Brave to have no punctuation, too.

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
David W. Parsley
On ‎6‎/‎5‎/‎2017 at 7:17 PM, tonyv said:

The poem is unmistakably Parsley, albeit with a hint of Heaney. The man who reminds us is a relic like Jethro Tull's Aqualung, yet unoffensive. There is the mention of "ancient grills," and I read girls and hills. Am I that relic as I stumble, in a drunken stupor, repeating the last few words I hear like Dougie Jones in David Lynch's Twin Peaks twenty-five years later? Could be ... came for ...

Remember what we came for. And I am again reminded that "nobody is ever saved alone," how in this life we don't need money, we need each other. I stand in awe.

Tony

Tony, as usual, I find your insights alternately encouraging and challenging.  It did not occur to me to link the poem's theme(s) with those of Aqualung, a highly regarded concept album considered to be a profound statement on the distinction between religion and God.  I am impressed and encouraged by your innate grasp of the motif.  And I deliberately left room in the poem for each reader to project his/her own perspective into the metanarrative and derive the corresponding value from the experience.

My own perspective bends more retro than that of Jethro Tull.  A century give or take of existentialist thought and its spin-offs have been so aggressively revisionist and counter culture (yes, that is a play on words in line 14) that we may wish to consider whether we have thrown out baby, God, hammer, chisel, polisher, and kitchen sink with the bathwater of "received systems."  The culture of dismissing all heritage masterpieces as the product of DWEMs (dead white European males) has resulted in an impoverishment and potential evisceration of literary legacy that has helped engender our post-literate age.  (Harold Bloom's savage The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages gives an insightful, if somewhat over-the-top, rebuttal.)  I take a similar view of current attitudes toward religion.  Is it okay if we adjust the knobs on our equipment instead of kicking in the front of the chassis and throwing it out?

Final note: As you probably guess, there are any number of allusions (gasp!) in the poem, but one of particular importance is an admiring nod to Allen Ginsberg's, "A Supermarket in California," itself a part of the poet's manifesto promoting the beat generation outshoot of the same existentialism toward which I lob a few soft grenades (lines 8-14.)

Thanks as always!

 - Dave

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