In the Library Reading Room

Three nights after Christmas a man in a down jacket
comes to rake the fire. The eyes of the drowsy
unemployed are on his back like winter flies. A woman
hangs newspapers like hides. Rain lashes the eaves
like another fearful economic trend. Dogs are moving outside;
a policeman drives watching for their backs
ridged with moon like stones.
The library lights are white as bed linen.
Three men in new Christmas shirts share the Times.
Feet shuffle behind a barrier in Local History.
Fashion monthlies open their arms.

:: Steven Huff, Proof (Two Rivers Review, 2004)


The Battle of Austerlitz

Wakened by a dissonant drop
drip, worked in the bathroom late,
adjusting the ball to give the rusty tank
its proper level, then
because the blanket was too thin,

he pulled on a pair of socks
and read about African termites
in their mounds, and then
about the Battle of Austerlitz,
a novelist's account, turned out

the light and fell into a slumber.
At nine the doorbell rang,
he rushed downstairs. One of the
weekly students with her mom,
each with a violin,

but his teacher-wife was gone. . .
shopping, he guessed, annoyed.
Dialed her cell phone number.
She answered the second ring
and when he heard

her smiling at his voice
his fierce heart melted,
but she murmured, "Dear,
you need to come get me,"
her weak voice sinking at

the end.And dizzy with sense of
creeping age, of something
gone spectacularly wrong, groans
of the dying, woke up
to this rainy winter's day.

:: John Morgan, in Field #73 (Fall 2005)