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Coffeehouse Poets: Living in the margins

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poetry january

Cindy Lamb

The Yakima Coffeehouse Poets, a nonprofit formed in 2014 to represent the interests of poets and poetry lovers in Central Washington, is the organization behind this poetry column, which runs on the fourth Thursday of each month. It features inland Washington poets and their winning poems from the Yakima Coffeehouse Poets’ annual contest.

Learn more about the contest and the organization at and

Cindy Lamb is a Yakima poet and retired English teacher from Selah High School, where she taught for 20 years. Previously, she taught language arts and social studies to seventh graders for 12 years.

She enjoys reading, writing and doing volunteer work for Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.

Lamb’s work has been published in “Breath and Shadow,” “Broken Circles” and “Twentieth,” and she has won local awards for her work.

She lives with her husband and dog, has three adult children and four grandchildren who live in the area.

‘Bookstore Discovery’

I pick through the dust

among tattered paperbacks

cluttering the shelves

for a cheap copy of Coriolanus

find one for a dollar

pithy observations

in a distantly familiar hand

sprawled in the margins

voluptuous loops, lazy left hand slant.

Then I notice his name on the flyleaf

and drift back to my first love

if only from a distance.

I sat the fifth desk back

two rows from the window

a skinny eighth grader

who kept her head down

as she swam the hallways.

I floated on his words

admiring tweed jackets

sultry cologne, his smile

dreaming he loved me.

He taught history and literature

hypnotized me with Abraham Lincoln

his hair falling across his brow

as he paced the room quoting Wordsworth

this man who made a teenage life

a little less cloudy and wandering.

Years later

he was murdered late at night

in an empty building

always willing to live in the margin

he did here too and paid

with his life.

Now, I finger this book

wanting to thank him.

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