4.06.2008

Valentines


The library did not have the book I needed.
“I’d better mark it missing,” said the limping man,
returning with me
to the reference desk. “It hasn’t been seen
in seven years.”

The radio news is noise in the car. I wonder
where my book is living, on whose
dusty shelf, if the thief even knows she has
what should be mine.

I park across the street from my house, still
muttering about the wasted trip.
The man on the radio strikes a sudden somber tone.
“The Air Force says now that all four men aboard
a bomber that exploded
over Qatar today”
—he pauses—
“are safely on the ground.” I exhale,
having held my breath for these
invisible soldiers,
the men I did not know existed.

On my way out of the library
I passed a Poetry Month table, the volumes
tipped on one end to showcase their slenderness.
The pages flipped fast
and my answers were not inside.
Lying flat on one end of the display,
an afterthought, a push
of a bored finger, Ted Kooser’s Valentines.
I bring it home.

In front of my neighbor’s house I pull
the Kooser from the car and slam the door.
The street is silent and I realize
the imaginary bomber passengers landed safely—
landed safely, only to return
to the incessant emergency
of war.
I realize that even as the NPR man informed me
of my own relief
they rose from their stretchers
and prepared to die all over again.

The library book, glassy in its plastic jacket,
Slips from my fingers
and lands on the wet road.
In that deafened moment my eyes know only
Black street, white book,
red heart.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This has a different tone. Would you please try this style with more of your work.

You have a gift.

Kevin Allen Jr. said...

I don't love this one. It's not at all my speed. But i get the feeling that it would be a hit with other audiences. Try this on other people. I think it's a little older than my demographic.

this might be a very good poem, but i'm not the person to tell you.


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