Bio Note: As a judge for two book awards in poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters, I have a healthy stack of 2021 books to read by mid-January (and I know that most of the books won’t arrive until the deadline because—ahem!—many of us put off submissions till the last minute). Since the TIL inducted me earlier this year into their renowned company, I did feel like I needed to give back to a community of writers that has nourished me over the years—and continues to do so with recent poems in four anthologies, including Diane Lockward’s new craft book The Strategic Poet. Maybe if I get through the dozens of books I need to read, I might even find time to work on a new collection of my own.
In the A-V Room
The repeated pattern of jarring alarms: another lockdown—only this time we’re herded like wayward sheep into a room I’ve never seen, accessed through the inner sanctum of the library office. The solid wood door latches and locks shut, and we are told to find a spot, sit on the floor, and be quiet—no talking, no cell phones. There are no windows, no furniture, just a dim glow from a single red emergency light. At first, it’s so silent that I hear the low whistle of air struggling through the dirty cage of a rusted vent—then whispers of students and shushing from the librarian. I notice a thin crack like a junkie’s vein running the course of the concrete floor, the dusty clumps that cling to the floorboards, and the cobwebs in the corners of every low-hanging shelf, many with furry sacs of lint. Electrical cords like the long ends of nooses dangle from steel AV carts, which creak with the weight of leaning bodies. I wait for a crash in this storeroom, a graveyard for tape recorders, phonographs, projectors, and other outdated equipment. The room hushes down again with a muffled sound from somewhere above, and all eyes look to the stained ceiling, to the spaces where two tiles are missing. One girl bleats she has to call her mom, but when we hear the pop of gunfire, all eyes shift silently towards the door and I draw a goodbye in the dust.
©2022 Scott Wiggerman
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