Fast friends, youthful companions
you loved spending time with, listening to,
fingering for assurance in library alcoves.
In adolescent crises heart-mates.
Drudges. Stern family stalwarts
glaring down at you, foisted on you. Blah blah
must-read’s. Wisdom volumes. Good for you,
your snubbing them, but wisely seeing them useful
for propping up hobbled sofas.
Bed mates, wildly offbeat, snarky.
On your own, up till dawn with them, you were,
and you could have done that all summer long.
Commiserators, through stenchy work days with
puffer-fish bosses and managerial spasms.
Commuter and lunch-hour compadres in the
wearing-down, turgid slog.
Sleazy companions. Glitzy, shocking, gossips,
thrilling fast talkers, bad dressers.
You’d never be seen with these types, but in your
you needed cheap thrills: dog-eared, mauled
best-sellers, fifty cents at Book Schmooze;
two dollars a bag at a down-the-street estate sale.
Friends of friends. You’ll love this, you’re informed
by way of introduction, the volume guided into
your palm like a hand placed there for affectionate
greeting, a lifetime closeness in the offing.
(Once you wondered—the text superficial—
if the givers were really those you knew well).
Drop-in squatters. Mutterers, droners, hanger-on’s,
self-absorbed, user-friendly riff-raft.
Burnt out hacks trying to sell Plot Device 20 in a
who-cares-who-dunnit last gasp.
For weeks you’ve doled out sympathy for them,
your will to give them haven flagging and frayed.
The library’s Overdue Soon notice is the juice
of your courage to evict them.
Chance acquaintances. Stranded, en route to
some big city, you struck up a lasting connection to,
and ran off with, a work you found in that
small town’s motel lounge, the night-clerk dozing.
Imagine your reflex, later, discovering your new find
was one of those wisdom volumes scorned in your youth.
The ones that grasped you by the shoulders and
shook you, outlier minstrels of magical insights,
mind-invaders, gravitas seed-sowers,
subversives leading you to the you you’d become,
talking to you even when never beside you for years,
commandingly quiet in your special place for them.