In the reading room of the library,

Under the dome of the white and golden light

Where timber desks surround a great central platform

And students sleep next to their laptops, their devices keeping their laps warm,

An old man sits alone with white eyes, half blind.

He laughs to himself as if an angel is telling him jokes.

As I pass, I see a book of poems open before him,

The page he has open, features Blake’s great poem.

He sees me and says;

‘If only all God’s followers were prophets.’

I stop and look into those wells of milk

And he smiles again, a black smile of soft lips and moisture.

‘In the end, we are all alone, but we can always have the words,

The poems never leave us; it is we who leave the poems.’

He wants me to say something; I can see the desperation in his old face,

The desperation for someone to talk to him,

But I say nothing and move on, sitting in a far corner behind a young woman

Wearing a red coat, every move she makes sets fire to the air around her,

the world under her heal.

What time does she have for poems?

Poems are for the desperate to whom no one talks.

Published by David O'Sullivan