“A city without libraries is like a graveyard”
In my city of peace born of fire and grey
a phoenix rises on emblems, letterheads
and library books where Kuldip reads 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 bidding 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 what art is muzzle mouths of artists and woodwind.
Leave our libraries be, let our city sing, let our city be Malala’s song.