Reading Whitman in the Library 


I am burying my toes between leaves of grass.

I call it simplicity.


At the bottom of this page,

type becomes Unity.

It will always be so.

The chair will stop tipping,

shaking organs from their places.


The quiet lingers on,

encompasses all without

masking anything. Its voice a friend

I once knew.


Bookshelves are men,

blue and grey wool. My fingers

caress or smudge,

depending on the ink. Distant.


There is a great divide

between the desire to heal

and the actual bandaging of wounds.


I am as calm as the turning of pages.

I have ink stains. I know the truth

when it sees the whites of my eyes

and lowers its bayonet.


I have all the drum taps

and courage has never been

so far way. The window, the only

air I cannot breathe.


I found humanity in the turning

of pages. Not mine. Never written, just felt.

Just battled the need to shun the Other

in favor of white and red roses,


tearing pages half-way,

sat in between the crowd

and the roses. Which is better.


Jessica Thelen is a poet from Western Massachusetts. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Blotterature, Dirty Chai, Flare: The Flagler Review, Free State Review, Meat For Tea: The Valley Review, Gravel, Extract(s), Scapegoat Review, Paper Nautilus, Blood & Thunder, and Mock Orange. She is currently working on her first full-length collection, tentatively titled Nota Bene