The Strange Wistfulness of Old Book Shops – by Carl Nelson


Old bookshops sell a wish for the world to stop –
for the dead to go on living,
for heroes to remain so,
and the girls ever lovely.

There’s the bouquet of old cardboard, paper, glue and ink
stacked and staggered on the desk in the dim light.
Squeezing narrow aisles are the wisdom of lives
filed by narrow notions,
the helter-skelter, hodge-podge of ideas in retreat.

Old bookshops make me pensive
of neglecting my elders
with their dour, dusty commentary
shouting my ignorance.

Youthful passions, now at rest
in their retirement, emeritus,
use a cane now to get
from one brittle page to the next.

The forewords believe in predestination.
The contents shake a dry husk,
and the glossary’s passe.

Faded customers discuss castoff loyalties,
whose glittering silhouettes
waltz in memories
towards the bestseller lists.

Wistfulness coughs up its phlegm
with each chime of the register.




Carl Nelson lives in a small town on the Ohio River and runs a Poetry Series which meets monthly at the Serenity Coffee House in Vienna, WV.  Every day he works on poems and mosies about with his dog Tater Tot, thinking up something practical he’s accomplished to tell the wife.