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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing March 2023
Library in a Dresser Drawer, poems by John Philip Drury.
Library in a Dresser Drawer
My mother had a dirty mind.
I knew it from the paperback stash
she hid where it was hard to find.
Lust was the muse for whom I pined,
so I slid out the drawer of trash
my mother had. A dirty mind
is what we shared, but she had lined
the antique wood with dust and ash
protecting what was hard to find:
Jail Bait’s the novel I reclined
with on her bed. Guilt whipped its lash,
my mother detecting my dirty mind.
But just as ducks mistake the blind,
her customers at the bank would have blushed
at what she hid. Instead, they’d find
a lady, proper and refined,
a teller with a drawer of cash:
my mom, who had a dirty mind
she hid to make it hard to find.
Arguing about Computers
“It all comes down to one and zero, Mom,”
I said at breakfast, trying to explain
the mystery of computers. “I’m too old
for that,” she said, “that shit.” I tried to get
her interested in buying one herself,
thinking the binary system might excite her
since she had always liked to work with numbers.
“It’s like Morse code,” I said, “the dots and dashes.”
My yes was answered by my mother’s “No,
I hate computers. When the bank got theirs,
I couldn’t be a teller anymore.
I had to quit. Computers took my job.”
The miracle she craved, something to help
her keep on breathing, wasn’t digital.
Stupidly, trying her patience, I persisted:
“It’s like a light switch, Mom, on-off, on-off.”
© John Philip Drury
John Philip Drury is the author of five books of poetry: The Disappearing Town and Burning the Aspern Papers (both from Miami University Press), The Refugee Camp (Turning Point Books), Sea Level Rising (Able Muse Press), and The Teller’s Cage, which will be published by Able Muse Press in Fall 2023. He has also written Creating Poetry and The Poetry Dictionary, both from Writer’s Digest Books. His awards include an Ingram Merrill Foundation fellowship, two Ohio Arts Council grants, and the Bernard F. Conners Prize from The Paris Review for “Burning the Aspern Papers.”
He was born in Cambridge, Maryland, and grew up in Bethesda, raised by his mother and a former opera singer she called her cousin but secretly considered her wife. After dropping out of college and losing his draft deferment during the Vietnam War, he enlisted in the Army to learn German and served undercover in the West German Refugee Camp near Nuremberg. He used benefits from the GI Bill to earn degrees from Stony Brook University, the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. After teaching at the University of Cincinnati for 37 years, he is now an emeritus professor and lives with his wife, fellow poet LaWanda Walters, in a hundred-year-old house on the edge of a wooded ravine.