This week, we venture into a writer’s sacred space – the library. Been spending time researching (and seeking a quiet place to fill my days). Head to the stacks and write of something associated with a library. Be it the shelves of books, the silence, a specific section or the atmosphere. It’s an inspiring place and not used nearly as much as it used to be or should be.



I find a table in the back room,
across the way a woman waits,
studious and refined. Exchanged
smiles and a nod, a recognition
of each other's condition.
Both on a mission to discover
and uncover our truths.
I delve into my notes, random lines
and quotes of poetic potential,
a vocabulary as a credential.
She primps and organizes,
text books and journals, pages
put forth by sages of knowledge 
and education, her trained station.
Shortly she is joined by her charge,
a student of adult age, unsure 
and uncertain, shrouded by a curtain
of doubt, out to prove detractors wrong.
Treading on trepidatious feet
he meets the one who will guide him,
a black man wanting a better life,
an understanding in undemanding tones.
Grasping small bits of truth far from
the youth of his days, he plays slowly 
with words a struggle undertaken.
He battles the language valiantly, 
stepping cautiously from word to word.
Yearning for a chance to better himself, 
willing to learn what she offers.
I look over again and we all smile and nod.

(C) Walter J Wojtanik - 2023

108 thoughts on “PROMPT #429 – SHHHH!

  1. The Library

    I stand still among the shelves,
    close my eyes tight
    Breath deep
    Am greeted by the fragrance of aged paper
    An invitation in the silence
    To travel to cities I’ve never been
    To meet people from the past
    Whose names I once learned in history class

    Whispers of rustling pages play
    like music in my soul
    While a mama reading in a soft sing-song voice
    words indistinguishable to me
    Causes her little one to giggle
    My heart smiles…
    Another heart invited to embark upon a lifelong adventure
    Through the power of the written word.

  2. In the Stacks

    I wrapped myself
    in Psychology texts
    nestled inside a cubbyhole.

    Nestled inside a cubbyhole
    I leafed my way through yellow pages
    as they revealed their secrets.

    As they revealed their secrets
    texts opened themselves to me
    as I sat near a winding staircase

    As I sat near winding a winding staircase
    I read about personalities and hidden lives
    borne inside everybody’s soul.

    Borne inside everybody’s soul
    dissonance and dreams
    where I found myself.

    I found myself
    inside the minds of others
    as a light down the aisle shone like a star.

  3. New Adventures

    I walked into the library.
    The first time since 2020.
    It seemed bigger.
    I think they knocked a wall out.
    Or maybe it’s the way they arranged it.
    Once what was familiar,
    stretched out as unfamiliar territory.
    I stepped forward
    like disembarking the plane in Kenya,
    looking forward to new adventures.

  4. Rain on the Window

    like tears
    when I sit
    at Computer 16
    as it flickers
    to life
    and children
    chase each other
    sets of shelves
    and a clerk
    pushing a cart
    of returned books
    offers a weary smile
    and the returned books
    seek other eyes
    while novels on shelves
    Canin, Murakami, Hawkings
    and poetry in a quiet corner
    take me to other worlds


    one of the joys
    when my children were younger
    their hunger
    after stories
    all encompassing glories
    found in the nooks
    of library books
    shelf after shelf
    they’d find themself
    which inspired me
    to sign up and see
    how they spent their time
    through pictures and rhyme
    at their school’s library
    before they’d carry
    all those books home
    to happily comb
    through all they found
    sitting silently no other sound
    barreling in would come their classes
    hurling towards me in masses
    for seven years I was there
    volunteering with care
    just to be part of it
    absorbing every bit
    watching them interact
    subtly, using tact
    encouraging their every read
    meeting each literary need
    their librarian and I became friends
    observing through a similar lens
    hard to part when they left the school
    my time there, valid and cool
    spending time among authors, each word
    listening to stories never before heard
    a fond memory even today
    my time with kids and books will stay
    forever with me
    with us enjoying
    that abundant school library

    (c) Janet Rice Carnahan 2023


    I chanced to date a lanky librarian;
    a lusty lady was she:
    in appearance often quite contrarian,
    but there was more to see.
    Her name, believe it or not, was Marian,
    and now, most appropriately,
    whenever I wish to date a librarian
    I know where I should be.

    • Thanks, Bill. It was interesting to watch their interaction, carried out in silent communication.He seemed very humble and his desire to learn showed. That someone took the time to help teach him to read and handle simple arithmetic showed in the appreciation on his face. There was no embarrassment in his demeanor. He wanted to learn even at an advanced age (approximately in his mid-thirties.)I have great respect for this man and his teacher. Walt

  7. My Library

    Close…walking distance…one of the reasons we chose our forever home. Quiet if you you want it, active if you choose. Books, hard & soft, newspapers, magazines, videos, music cd’s, computers, meeting rooms small & large, nap areas for the wee ones, maps, an atlas stand, a globe, bulletin boards and display cases. Children’s sections, and Young Adults areas, then the rest of it…fiction and non, categorized and not, tables and chairs of all sorts, even couches, old and soft and worn, study carrels, staff work areas, a small rock garden. A powerful, affinity space, full of shared interests, uses and goals, open to both locals and visitors, owned legally by the city, but more so by the users. Used book store, staffed by seniors, Friends of the Library, a couple of quiet rooms, a large community room, where music is played, lectures are given, Ikebana and art are taught, medium sized meeting rooms, where creative writing and fly fishing and bird watching are discussed. Children, teens, adults of all ages, forty (or more) ethnicities, several local homeless men, respectful and grateful for the shelter from their individual storms, small bus loads of special needs individuals, some of whom still learning to be quieter in this sanctuary. And me.

  8. Libraries

    Couldn’t wait for
    the Book Mobile
    to come around.
    it was filled
    floor to ceiling
    with books. As
    a child, I loved
    climbing into
    that space, taking
    my time to choose.

    I remember walking
    into the imposing
    42nd Street library,
    with its stone lions
    out front. So many
    rooms. So silent.
    Filled with elegance.

    Now I visit our local
    library, with its
    music and movies
    to rent on the main
    floor. Downstairs
    are all categories
    of books. The Children’s
    section is off to the
    side, and there are
    tables and chairs
    scattered about
    for students,
    and those looking
    for a serene place
    in which to sit,
    think or perhaps
    simply dream.

  9. My Very OWN Library

    Let me invite you into my escape palace…
    Where there are books about Jo’s Boys,
    And A Rose in Bloom…
    Fairy tales of Grimm and Andersen
    Poetry books of by Tennyson, Goodison,
    And more trapped within pages
    I once studied at college…
    I have books galore
    If you wish to study the Tudor,
    And take a travel
    With a man named William Least Heat-Moon.

    There are books that read
    To research a time I lived in
    But did not completely understand…
    I have read the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Malcom X, a preacher who wrote a book
    Reading while Black,
    And opened my eyes to a world
    I knew but did not understand.
    That we are the same kind of different,
    And within us we can make it good
    If only we are given a chance.

    I love mysteries,
    And there is Peter Robinson…
    So sad to hear of his passing…
    Mosely with his character Easy Rawlins…
    Then there is Venice detective
    That makes me think.
    There are others, but
    Too many to name…

    I have books on theology
    If that is your bent…
    I have read Merton and Lewis,
    And Bruce who gave me
    A new way to look at Paul.

    Da bought the complete
    Works of a man whose name
    Is Samuel Clemmons…
    I have only read
    The trip a Connecticut Yankee made.
    There also his books on wildflowers
    That periodically I open,
    Just to see his handwriting.

    I have books on ancient history
    Something I like to study,
    I like history and many of my novels take me back
    To places I cannot be
    Like books by Jane Austin or a Bronte sister.
    Maybe I could if I found those stones
    That The Outlander found.

    I have Ma’s books of ghost stories,
    And I remember her reading them
    Late at night… She read every night.

    You would find books about serial killers…
    A strange kind of book to read, but
    Doing human services, it was just good
    To know that I really didn’t know the worse people.
    Besides I was stalked and only quick wit,
    And a willingness to go into an unknown place
    Did I escape. Quite a story is that one…
    Maybe I will tell you about it.

    I love the book about a bridge to the sun,
    And the one about a cloud of sparrows
    With an autumn bridge… a lovely story
    Of love in a dangerous time.

    This is my happy place, and my sad place…
    This is the place I learn to face myself.
    And then there are my many translations
    Of the Bible that has taught me
    How to be a better me.

    I did not show you all I have.
    That will have to wait
    Until another day.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    March 12, 2023

  10. Personal Library

    The shelves are full
    As far as the mind’s eye can see
    Shelf after shelf
    Row after row
    Every life event set in place
    With more added daily

    Each event contains a label
    Many mysteriously unreadable
    Like forgotten memories

    More and more labels obscure
    As the days and years pass
    Some labels fade to clear
    Memories forever forgotten

    But on occasion
    An event label would suddenly
    Come into clear view
    Completely readable
    A flash from the past

    All too often that flash
    Would disappear once more
    Back on the shelf
    Mysteriously unreadable

    Those flashes are fun
    But if the mind’s eye blinks
    Better luck next time


    The professor had so many books
    all scattered everywhere
    that mice that lived within the leaves
    had to come up for air.

    He finally built his own library:
    a grand place, with a dome
    and shelves so high that clouds would gather.
    He called the place, Stackholm.

  12. Where Else
    (but in a library)

    In the musty silence
    words slip from pages
    fall into cracked paste
    of old tomes to be
    forever lost until
    someone searching
    for a loved one
    prises open deckled edge
    And gently coaxes
    creaking bindings
    to read the old lines
    penned centuries ago
    when Phiz decorated
    pages of Dickens and gilt
    edges glittered on shelves

    You handle the leather-bound
    Shakespeare farther on and
    marvel that you even get to
    touch it but it leaves its imprint
    on not only your fingers
    but your soul: Lear and Portia
    King John, Macbeth where else
    to encounter such as these
    except within the silent
    corridors lined with trees
    gone to paper and words.


    A place I’d rather spend my time,
    quiet for the most part,
    I start to unwind and find myself
    among the racks and stacks of books,
    quiet little nooks to escape to
    and hide, my nose ensconced inside
    a favorite volume or author, a tome
    becomes my home for a time
    be it fiction, prose or rhyme,
    it becomes all mine. People are near
    and I hear their whispered mumbles,
    linguistic stumbles and foibles,
    verbal faux pax, but I pay them no heed.
    I need to run away for a time.
    Sections of direction: History or fiction,
    Family Life and Diction, Arts and Sports
    and other sorts of material to absorb.
    The silence is gilded gold and I’m sold
    on all I can acquire amongst the mire
    of pages and bindings, minding my mind
    behind every turned page.

  14. Toledo Main

    This grand dame has stood tall since 1937, all while stooping to serve our region “of makers, dreamers, and doers.” She seems the heartbeat of downtown, freely welcoming all who want to peruse the volumes of knowledge and wonder she houses. I believe anything you want to learn about our own region, and branching out into the far reaches of the known universe, may be found within her walls. You may ask what would make us want to look through her books, what with the world at our fingertips in such a literal sense via the phone in our hand. It’s hard to imagine that some may have never fingered through paper pages filled with words that others over generations have fingered and read as well. In a library, history is not found in the pages of history books alone, but in the pages of every book on every shelf .. each page silently chronicling the very fingerprints of those who have been there before us. How many lives have touched the book we now hold in our hand? How many have absorbed and come to an understanding quite like our own? Or perhaps nothing like our own? How many people like us, or immeasurably different, have we made eye contact with as we skim the world-wide web? How many have we smiled at, and potentially rescued their day … or they, ours?

    Gather the volumes
    and let volumes speak of you.
    Read others. Be read.

    © Marie Elena Good, 2023

  15. First, before I read anything else, I want to say, Walt, that this piece of yours touches me deeply. In part because of the man of whom you speak, and in part because of the poetic man doing the speaking. This is excellence in observation, and excellence and heart in writing. WONDERFUL!


    There is nary a space in this place
    that doesn’t possess a book, a tape, an album,
    or a DVD. Were it up to me, you would see
    my life cataloged much like my movies
    and records, all in accordance with
    alphabetic law. It’s my flaw to which
    I’ll admit, and given the chance I will add to it.
    This mass of media, my personal library,
    If I really get serious, this thing will get scary.

    (C) Walter J Wojtanik

    • Readers, writers, and libraries go together, and often are one, and this piece accentuates that, in my opinion.

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