Apr 052013

Poems by Eric Scott Sutherland

Images by Brian Connors Manke

These poems and images appeared with Tony Stilt’s essay, “The Lexington Central Public Library is a home.” All poems will appear in Eric’s forthcoming Accents publication, pendulum.


not in the job description

Librarians are almost always very helpful

and often almost absurdly knowledgeable.

WelcomeWEBTheir skills are probably very underestimated

and largely underemployed.

-Charles Medawar

You went to school

to study library science,

to become an ambassador

for letters and literacy.

You love books

and want to help

people read.

You never expected

you’d be directing

people to the bathroom

and telling them

not to fall asleep.


have and have-not

In the dim rotunda

two people sit,

inanimate as mannequins.

New-Yorker-MagazineWEBOne is dressed in a slate

three piece uniform.

The other wears a rainbow

of second-hand mismatches.

They watch a pendulum

swing beneath the eye of the sky,

marking the miserable

seconds of the day,

the tick tocks of rat claws

as they race.

In one’s wide dark

pupils, the dream is unattainable.

And in the others the myth is

exposed, hope already lost.


fishing for change

lost skipper, Phoenix Park, far from sea

hair grayish green like rocky coast

Pendulum-upWEBmoss tangled under an old sock hat

a body of wire wrapped in a ragged coat

shredded to stuffing and thread

an unlit cigarette hangs between thin lips

a ship tossed in the storm of his beard

every morning voyage passes the pay phone

he casts his finger into the coin return slot

but I have never seen him get lucky

never seen him catch a dime


Milkshake Ricky

loves oatmeal cookies

and peanut butter shakes,

dresses in cutoff sweats

over full length

sweats, looks like he flew

out of the cuckoo’s nest,

Freedome-recordsWEBlost four pair of glasses

and two umbrellas

last week.


Milkshake Ricky is losing

more than his mind. The way

he fumbles through

layers of worn cotton

searching for his billfold

he may have also

lost what little

money there is left

from his monthly check.