A collection of hardcover books, seen lengthwise from the bottom so their pages, but not their spines are visible. They seem to form a strong wall.

Poem: Steady the World

“Just hold on,” she said, “hold on with everything I have.”


A version of this story ran in the November / December 2022 issue.

Here lean against me
while I lean against the window
trying to steady the world.
Something jittery as the day begins,
a hesitation, a catch in its step,
its uncertain breath.

My friend the librarian always told me that the world
was more than anyone deserved,
more trouble and more beauty.
She said she never understood
why she felt responsible for it,
as if she needed to give it
a good spin every morning
to keep it going, to stop
that wobble that she felt.

And then what, I asked her.
“Just hold on,” she said,
“hold on with everything I have.”

Telling me that was like handing it to me.
As when she handed me a book
she thought I might like, or one
she thought I ought to read.

In Memory of Monty Jones

I have known Monty Jones continuously since 1964, Baylor University. I tried to read everything he had written. He won the poetry award at B.U. in 1968. Because he taught me how not to write poetry, I had the same achievement in 1969.

We visited in Balmorhea, Texas in 1969, his first high school teaching job. Our paths diverged but we didn’t lose connection.

My last e-mail from him was two days before he died on October 22, 2022 at Seton Hospital, Austin.

He was a friend.

We shall not see the likes of him again soon.

Fleet Lentz
Author, A Backseat View from the Phantom