by Joshua Converse05 Jul 2013
They rise early
with rickety trundles they lurch
into the darkness of the Great Square Public
and beneath piecemeal shelters, pavilions, canopies, they lay out their wares for the voracious morning.
When the city wakes they sing sestinas to the passersby, call the Muses
and bargain sonnets by the bag, or haggle over pantoums-
fragments of Sappho go on special, “seven for a shilling”
Tuesdays at the corner booth;
that’s just behind the Milton vendors (rebels all)
who roost away from the others, keep their own counsel.
And the Shakespeare merchants trade
across broad thoroughfares they shout and call
All gratuities to Homer, please, blind in the street, sweating, starving, mad, full of song.
charitable, they pass out Swift to the homeless, or Dickens in the Winter
Spenser in the Spring,
they throw away the scraps, the unused grammar;
dogs in alleyways who snap and growl over umlauts.
They pack at full starlight, load their wagons
when the streets begin to wink,
and wend away through crooked cobblestone paths when the city sleeps,
to secret places of their own.