The Reading Room
For you who are always here, part of the monastic archive—
desks initialed by the storm-tossed,
shelves of defunct presses stained with gilt and coffee spill.
With perspiration of a lost Dead Sea.
The window, glittering with variegated lusts.
Magnolia spreading flesh against the mullioned glass
while the Swedish and the Ethiopian boys
cradle their heads and row spasmodically via unconsciousness.
To read is to be hungry and filled
like the stone lions gorged on nightingales. To contract in northern cold
and finally to crack
like ice in a sink that mushroomed into the minuscule bedroom
and the hours of abstinence supplanted by a fanged desire.
Keats wanders through the verse section
luring graduate students to his narrow glittering gloom,
a gloaming of oranges and burnt. Forever, he is nearly twenty-five.
Look urns where cigarette butts are quashed.
Look thumbprint of girl in a long black sweater asking
simply not to dream of the fated one
on Saint Agnes Eve. Look here reader: your vacant, watchful chair.
Carol Alexander is the author of the poetry collections Environments (Dos Madres Press) and Habitat Lost (Cave Moon Press). Her chapbook Bridal Veil Falls is published by Flutter Press. Alexander's poems appear in a variety of anthologies and journals such as The American Journal of Poetry, Bluestem, Canary, The Common, Cumberland River Review, Gravel, Rise Up Review, The Main Street Rag, San Pedro River Review, Split Rock Review, Soundings East, South Florida Poetry Journal, One, Southern Humanities Review, Stonecoast Review, and Third Wednesday.