Archive for February 4, 2019

When a library dies

Posted in Uncategorized on February 4, 2019 by antonyowen
woman sitting between bookshelves

Photo by Lucas França on

“A city without libraries is like a graveyard”

Malala Yousafzai


In my city of peace born of fire and grey

a phoenix rises on emblems, letterheads

and library books where Kuldip read How to kill a Mockingbird.


I only know how common birds are killed,

when a library closes – a blackbird caws from blossom then dies,

and books become bridges for those who lay the dreadful weave.


In my city of 2tone I hear city of culture,

I hear the twelve bar blues from a busker’s rain scarred guitar.

I hear the door of a library moaning as it closes in Earlsdon.


I see a dead poet smiling exhumed for a city of culture bid

and wonder if those businessmen know poetry at all

where black and white make grey our symbol.


In my city of culture a man washes dreadlocks in a library sink,

looks into the mirror and reads me, educates me,

places of books are where poems are made and read.


In my city of culture a care home waits for the library bus,

women wear their best clothes for shabby books made new,

it brings them the road of real and make believe.


I only know that when books breathe they resuscitate a city,

dead dreamers breathing from spines that hold it together,

if you kill a library you make a cage from the ribs of a phoenix.


This is our city where musicians and poets sing for a tuppence

and those who decide our fates muzzle mouths of artists and woodwind.

Leave our libraries be,

let our city sing,

let our city be Malala’s song.