Spencer Linford


The downtown library is full of bums, losers, and lunatics.
I am a kindred spirit, unsure of where I fit.
The library is the only free place to work.
Everywhere else requires rent, a lease, or at least a purchase.

The library costs too; it charges patience.
Sometimes the winds are mean and harsh: 
favorable conditions to keep the worst at bay.
Other days
I’m fucked.
Decay circles me like flies.

There is the giant, clad in an orange rag stiff with sweat.
He reads a book a day,
A new book every day.
He is a truth addict.

There is the bent woman swathed in a threadbare bag.
She devours ancient headlines from a paper yellowed with age.
Two or three voices accompany her.
She studies the past amidst an internal gnashing of teeth.

There is the would-be marine in the law study,
perpetually clearing his throat in case something inside needs to escape.
He wears surplus military gear.
He is on the frontline of ordered thought—

There are others, mostly ghosts haunted by troubled histories.

But today, only the regulars are here: Updike, Vonnegut, Calvino…
In other words, the dedicated.
They congregate in the west wing.
I settle where the sun sets, amongst the biographies,
at a table adorned with dappled light.

The downtown library is full of bums, losers, and lunatics:
Living proof of our common failure.
Living proof evil is unintelligent.
Living proof books toil while America sleeps.

The downtown library is full of bums, losers, and lunatics,
But so are our governments, churches, and militaries
And I am amongst them too.

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