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.
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.
I pick through the dust
among tattered paperbacks
cluttering the shelves
for a cheap copy of Coriolanus
find one for a dollar
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.
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.