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The Bookstall
by Linda Pastan

Just looking at them
I grow greedy, as if they were
freshly baked loaves
waiting on their shelves
to be broken open—that one
and that—and I make my choice
in a mood of exalted luck,
browsing among them
like a cow in sweetest pasture.

For life is continuous
as long as they wait
to be read—these inked paths
opening into the future, page
after page, every book
its own receding horizon.
And I hold them, one in each hand,
a curious ballast weighting me
here to the earth..

typing prompt

Current Writing Prompt

The first time I read “The Bookstall” by Linda Pastan (from Carnival Evening) I paused at the second line and thought her greediness would come from seeing other people who had books and wanting to be one of those writers. I was wrong. I was projecting my own greediness at that time.

Her greediness was wanting to read all of them. All those unread books led her to believe that "life is continuous / as long as they wait / to be read." That's a nice thought, though completely unrealistic.

I saw a t-shirt at a film festival that said "I can't die because there are so many films I still have to see." I too have many things I still want and plan to do, but that doesn't lead to immortality.

This month's prompt is very simple: books. But that broad simplicity leads to many possibilities. What do books mean to you? Escape? Enlightenment? As June arrives, are you getting together a summer reading list? Do you envy writers or think you could write something as good or better? Do you like to write but don't enjoy reading? Do you have shelves of books unread? Are they there just for show? Have you been cleaning out your book collection, or are you unable to browse a bookstore of garage sale and not walk away without getting something to add to your shelves

Send us a poem in which books are the central reflector of whatever you really want to say.


The deadline for submissions for the next issue is
June 30, 2023
Please refer to our submission guidelines and look at our archive of more than two decades of prompts and poems, and our blog for much more about the prompts and poetry.