New York Poems V (Brooklyn Central Library)
It was never my intention to enter Brooklyn Central Library
Crossing Grand Army Plaza, heading for Prospect Park
I stopped to admire the clean cut contours, the Art Deco design
The great black doorway with brass relief depicting human endeavour.
The library provides a refuge for the elderly, somewhere to hang out
They favour newspapers and magazines
National Geographics photos of palm clad coral islands
Offer escape on winter days when cold sleet swirls over the East River
Obscuring the South Manhattan skyline
Sometimes their heads droop as they doze and dream distant memories of youth.
The young occupy separate tables, seeking shelter from domestic distractions
They work to complete late assignments, gleaning facts, but learning little
The rich kids have flashy laptops; the poor kids use the librarys pcs
Their fingers flash fluently across key boards
Tap, tap, tapping
Googling other peoples words to cut and paste
Whilst roundabout, rows of books remain redundant and unread.
I ask the librarian for New York Poets
She looks bored sat at her desk, surrounded by shelves of books
And a clock that tick by tick, measures out her day
Neatly efficient in a white blouse, black skirt, and sensible shoes
Her hair is tied back hard and her blue eyes view the world
Through tortoiseshell-framed glasses
They ghost a smile as she reels off
Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, John Ashbury, and Frank OHara, that shelf there
Eight eleven onwards.
I collect books, find a table
And read, Why I am not a Painter by Frank OHara
My notes are interrupted, I wonder, did you pass this way
Back then when you were new to this city
With a mind full of youthful hope and excitement
In search of some grand adventure
Did you take books from this shelf and make notes in your notebook
Observe the occupants of the room with your wonderful eye for detail
Did you hear silent time creeping by
Did you slam your book shut, pick up your bag, and head for the park?
An echo of a book slamming shut reverberates around the reading room
Pensioners jolt into now, daydreams interrupted
The students briefly look up from their shimmering screens
Whilst the librarian frowns lifting a forefinger to her lips
As I leave the Brooklyn Central Library and walk out into the warm spring sunshine.