The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Micah Zevin

Refuge (Customer Service Chronicles Volume II)


I don’t have a home.

The library is my home.

I don’t have a mind.

The library is my mind.

I don’t have a voice.

The libraries are my voices.

I have lost my heart in the sand.

The library will help me find it.

I have been blinded by death and destruction.

The library will help me see beauty again.

I don’t have a job.

The library will help me find a job.

My heart has been mangled and chewed up by worthlessness.

The library will offer me music and books and movies to heal it to help repair the bleeding.

I can’t draw or speak English, do math problems or use the Internet.

The library will help me do all of these things and more.

I am lost on the highway.

The library will provide me directions.

I am sad.

The library will provide a warm smile, a “good day,” a “have a great weekend,” a jewelry

making workshop using recycled bicycle parts, a list of shelters.

In the summer, I am poor and need food to feed myself
and my children.

The library will help feed my children, provide them with arts and crafts activities,
distraction on top of stimulating distraction.

I hear so many voices and have become overwhelmed.

The library speaks to me like I am a mutant, a human being to be acknowledged and cherished,

whether my eyes sparkle or seem dead and creepy or I am simply slow and need help typing a

resume or filling out a VISA or GED application, or I smell and must be asked to wash myself

off in the restroom so that I can stay a little while longer.

I have no family, or no family I care to speak of.

The library offers me a family, guides me to the shelves to find them, and inhabit their worlds

until closing.




MICAH ZEVIN lives with his wife, a playwright in Jackson Heights, Queens, N.Y. He is a librarian for the Queens Library in Astoria. He has recently published poems and essays at the Best American Poetry Blog, Headlock Press, Newtown Literary Journal and Blog, The Otter, Reality Beach, Politics and Prose, Jokes Review and forthcoming in Post (Blank). He created/curated a workshop/open mic called The Risk of Discovery Reading Series in Astoria, Queens, N.Y. He graduated in May 2014 with an M.FA. in Poetry.