Musings from Books on a Shelf

This poem by Johnson captures that phase of life when we realize our powers are failing.

The author’s eye travels along a shelf of books not to be read, or records not to be heard, again.

Aging entails leaving behind earlier capabilities.

I’m not sure the  voice is one of regret or just acknowledging the loss of past joys.

We will all come to this point where we “can’t all buy them again” unable  to fully experience life’s richness as we once intended.

Standing by a Shelf

Brandon  D. Johnson

When he looks at the edges,
The covers of books and records,
He remembers when and where
He got them, how it felt.
Everything’s a testament
To life lived on the fringe
Of some sense of sanity.All the vehicles for imbibing
These treasures are obsolete.
Even his eyes and ears, as their
Function fades under each year’s
Mud and tussle to stay aliveThe damned fine few who know
Try not to lose the memories,
Talk as if each was there
For the other, laughter supplants tears.
If he can, a story gets written
About each song, how a chord
A lyric, the last line of a book

Make more sense, the same as the
Warnings his mother threw
at fledgling feet like seeds in soil.

He wishes he could buy them all again,
Heed the messages, grow as if
Each signpost was a vitamin
Make what became a recollection
A catalyst for pathfinding and strength.


Brandon D. Johnson is the author of Love’s Skin (The Word Works, 2006); The Strangers Between (Tell Me Somethin Books, 1999); and co-author of The Black Rooster Social Inn: This Is the Place (Spike and Pepper Books, 1997). He lives in Washington, D.C.




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