The Sunday Poem: Marilyn Stablein... The Poet's Couch

Have you been to Acequia Books on 4th St.?  This poem is so firmly rooted in that great place I can almost smell the books.  It is owned by Gary Wilkie, husband of our Sunday poet.  Not only that, today's poem pays tribute to that fine Duke City tradition of the streetside give-away.  Nice.

Marilyn Stablein is currently teaching a workshop called The Joy of Memoir: Writing Personal and Family Stories which is being offered at the Hispanic Cultural Center.  

The Poet’s Couch

At the bookstore spring cleaning begins after New Years’.
There are never enough shelves.  Books populate walls, tables,
cupboards, and closets.  Books that can’t squeeze on shelves
stack up on the floor.  We look around.  Where to add shelves?

Fiction, Poetry, Southwest and Art sections all need more space.
Even the kitchen’s crammed with cookbooks.  At monthly readings
poets, their books, briefcases, harmonicas, coffee mugs, cellphones,
note books and glasses, all end up on the old navy couch by the window.

The couch!” we exclaim in unison.  “If we move the couch
there’s space for new shelves.”  Reluctantly we load the cumbersome
thing upright onto a wheeled cart to maneuver between boxes in the
narrow aisle.  Out on the street a large FREE sign beckons drivers

on a sleepy Saturday morning on 4th , the old Route 66.  Traffic
is slow but steady.  Anyone need a couch? A poet’s couch?
Within the hour a beat-up Cadillac rumbles to the curb.  A man
shifts to park then idles the engine.  The woman steps out, leans back

into foam cushions imagining perhaps stretching out for an afternoon
nap or crocheting a woolen scarf while balancing a bowl of minestrone
on a TV tray.   But a Cadillac is no pick-up.  How…?  
Without speaking they slide one end of the couch onto the back

bumper then shove. Up, up and over the window until it rests atop
the vehicle like a canoe atop a duck hunter’s car but without the rope.
They didn’t bring rope.  Never mind.  His car waits for a clearing then crawls
into traffic.  Mindful of the teetering load he eases over a speed bump.

We forgot to mention the secret they carry with them.  At night after
everyone retires voices slowly rise from the depths of the historic couch
like spirits on All Soul’s Night.  Once again poetry enlivens the dark.
Dreaming minds mouth words of longing, the soul’s mysterious cravings.  

                        --Marilyn Stablein

Poetry submissions are welcome.  Email

Views: 126

Comment by Margaret Randall on March 11, 2012 at 9:14am

I love this poem! You have found a way to evoke literature's many trappings--books, the delicious places where real "flesh and blood" ones may still be found, the bookstores where we browse for them, the ghosts of many authors whose notebooks and yes, even harmonicas, still live in the space where they once read.This is the culture "modernity" is fast erasing, and I love being reminded it still exists in certain well-tended places. Thank you, Marilyn!

Comment by Merimee Moffitt on March 11, 2012 at 5:38pm

The teetering couch on the Cadillac--lovely.  My dad moved a double bed like this on the Santa Anna Freeway--it flew off!  xoxoox

Comment by Dee Cohen on March 13, 2012 at 5:24am

What a sweet poem. I love how it combines the nuts and bolts of minding the store with all the magic that happens in the shop. You've also captured our idiosyncratic ABQ where old Caddies can still roll by on Route 66. Between the store and the car, we get to step back in time.Thanks

Comment by Marilyn Stablein on March 13, 2012 at 10:39am

Loved all your comments. Thanks for posting and reading this tiny glimpse of the booksellers life.  Glad to share what we love: books, poems, and the camaraderie of poets.  Between the "real flesh and blood" and the "stepping back in time" is where the magic happens.

The Flying Double Bed sounds like a great poem.


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