Writers in a Café by Marvin Bell

“Writers in a Café” was written on the occasion of Iowa City’s bid to become a UNESCO Creative City of Literature. Marvin Bell is the first Poet Laureate of the state of Iowa.

Writers in a Café

Amid semi-trailers hauling produce

grown in the deep blue-black topsoil

left mid-country by an inexpressible Ice Age,

there is known to be a place where words

have dirt on their shoes. Where sky reaches

to girdle the globe, the earth is etched

by signs and portents. Many have bowed

to their writing in attics and basements,

at rest by the river or paused on a bridge,

in the shadow of winter or eclipse, voicing

local lives and affairs of state — as much by

the reflections of leaves and the glow

of prairie grasses left to live in the mind

as by shapes in clouds or the dark news,

They were here who made the sentence

behave and misbehave, who added

chapter and verse, and recast the myths.

The café grows quiet as they write.

The expresso machine lets go the steam

someone may write in on the mirror.

It is an impulse that survives disaster.

The guns fail when surrounded by writing.

Marvin Bell

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s