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Reading Lists

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Reading Lists


Adrienne Rich

Wrote about Aunt Jennifer’s

Rings and tigers on screens

And diving into a wreck


These were the poems

We interns were assigned

To read and teach,

And that was all right


But reading on one’s own

With no one’s rubric but

One’s own

Is so much better;

I’m sure we were supposed

To instill some kind of

Critical process regarding

Life and reading in it


But I’m not sure

How well that worked,

What kind of processes

We might have instilled,

What seeds grown,

What personal

Allegiances to one’s own

Mind and heart


So was a new generation of

New readers of poetry

Begun?  Has it flourished?

Are they among the ones who

Turn to poetry when there’s

A tragedy?


(read up how we

took to verse after the

Towers fell)


I like Rich, though that

Would not be enough

In that we were serving

A learning process


It was a small, state school;

I never heard from anyone

Again, though nothing and

No one is due me


A state away and many

Years, I wish us well

And to take up small books

Of miracles from time to time;

I do this, Mary Oliver’s

Most recently


C L Couch



Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash


Reading the Next Day

Reading the Next Day


Going back to reading what

Was written

Sometimes there’s little sense

Like looking back on doodles

Or freewriting

Looking back on other things

That’s harder

Talking with fewer people in old age

Means less chance for faux pas

Or maybe it’s reclusion


I don’t need a bigger pile

Piling in the in-box

Who does?


I go back to what I read

Having picked it up in the middle of the night

Because I wasn’t sleeping yet

And a story called

(I’m not sure who was more at fault)

When I return

Will I be welcome?

Will I be welcomed again?

I mean, yes, I bought the thing

But there’s more

An invitation

Riding like the girl who

Delivered most of the news

From Paul Revere

The book is here:

Will I take the message?

Will I accept responsibility for

Interpretation, then dissemination

Throughout the land?


You see, clearly there are questions

And there’s pressure

A lady or a tiger

Re-reading yesterday’s

New pages

In new hours

And then there’s what I’ve written


C L Couch



Photo by Prasanna Kumar on Unsplash

Besant nagar beach, Chennai, India

Books, most loyal friends.


If true, Ludington’s story puts Revere’s to shame, writes Valerie DeBenedette for Mental Floss. She “rode twice as far as Revere did, by herself, over bad roads and in an area roamed by outlaws, to raise Patriot troops to fight in the Battle of Danbury and the Battle of Ridgefield in Connecticut,” DeBenedette writes. “And did we mention it was raining?”


After Reading, There Were Crafts

After Reading, There Were Crafts


This time and long ago

I was learning Bible stories

The story I remember best

Is the one in which the prophet

Was tested via

The priests of Ba’al

Elijah was a good one

So the contest went his way

We know where Jehovah sets

With the faithful,

Which is with the faithful


When I read on my own,

I learned much more about

The prophets who were not so good

The Bible told me so

Deborah and Gideon turn out

To be exceptions

Not to mention all the kings,

I think,

Who came into being against

Jehovah’s wishes, anyway

Against God?

Who would do such a thing

Who knew the Lord so closely?

Does it breed contempt,

After all?


Solomon was prosperous

David was loved

Though there was ruin in his

Realm and by his hand

War, deceit, rebellion, adultery,

And murder

Yet when Absalom was killed

Left hanging in a tree

(such an image),

I wonder if God did not weep

With David, waiting by the gate

For a better word


The lesson was extended into

Something with our hands

I remember best all the burdened-out matches

Glued to a cardboard shape

To make a cross

A cross requiring so much

Extinguishment of light to have

Now the finished product better lay

Against the wall

As a reading for Good Friday


C L Couch



Community Archives – HC02495, Public Domain,

Photograph by Robert McCormick of Belleville, Ontario, showing Mary Ritchie (lived 1842-1929, formerly Mary Holden) and her Sunday School class from the John Street Church, Belleville.


The Act of Reading

The Act of Reading


It’s amazing how

Letters on the page

Keep us going

How the, which has little

Meaning, is essential


I look at the page, and

It matters

You find me there, too

And everyone who

Has meant something to you

And me


However it’s configured


We go to words on pages

And they matter

The secrets of all time and space

Are there

The words wait

Like magic spells

Invocations standing by


Turn to them

Whether paper or electrons

Our salvation waits

And other stories


C L Couch



title by Wolgang Iser, The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response


image in the public domain


J. R. R. Reading Day (25 March)

J. R. R. Reading Day

25 March


(Not that there’s anything to

Mind, but)

How was this decided?

What happens in the story

To commemorate?

What’s in the lore?


Having a day made right

For reading about rings

Or the Silmarils

Or ships retiring west to

Middle-Earth’s Elysian

Shores—or imposing corsairs

Creasing through southern



All this is good

If a day to be celebratory

Even better


An excuse to wake up our

Hobbit aspects and have

Bilbo’s birthday party, after

Reading, under the great

Shire tree


Not having to wait

‘Til 22 September


When we can make the party

More fantasy



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