Monday, December 15, 2008

The Feast

The lovers loitered on the deck talking,
the men who were with men and the men who were with new women,
a little shrill and electric, and the wifely women
who had repose and beautifully lined faces
and coppery skin. She had taken the turkey from the oven
and her friends were talking on the deck
in the steady sunshine. She imagined them
drifting toward the food, in small groups, finishing
sentences, lifting a pickle or a sliver of turkey,
nibbling a little with unconscious pleasure. And
she imagined setting it out artfully, the white meat,
the breads, antipasto, the mushrooms and salad
arranged down the oak counter cleanly, and how they all came
as in a dance when she called them. She carved meat
and then she was crying. Then she was in darkness
crying. She didn't know what she wanted.

Robert Hass

Robert Hass was poet laureate from 1995 to 1997. The Monrovia Public Library has one books of his poems: Praise; two books he has edited: Into the Garden: a Wedding Anthology and Rock and Hawk: a Selection of Shorter Poems by Robinson Jeffers; and one book he has translated: A Treatise on Poetry by Czeslaw Milosz.

Friday, December 5, 2008


What's the use
of something
as unstable
and diffuse as hope--
the almost-twin
of making-do,
the isotope
of going on;
what isn't in
the envelope
just before
it isn't:
the always tabled
righting of the present.

Kay Ryan

Kay Ryan is the 2008-2009 Poet Laureate. The Monrovia Public Library has her books Elephant Rocks and The Niagara River.

Monday, November 10, 2008

"I need something about applications of quadratic equations. Not how to do them, but how to use them in the real world. Well, some practice in doing the equations would be good too."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Unpainted Door
Finally, in middle age,
I was tempted to return to childhood.

The house was the same, but
the door was different.
Not red anymore--unpainted wood.
The trees were the same: the oak, the copper beech.
But the people--all the inhabitants of the past--
were gone: lost, dead, moved away.
The children from across the street
old men and women.

The sun was the same, the lawns
parched brown in summer.
But the present was full of strangers.

And in some way it was all exactly right,
exactly as I remembered: the house, the street,
the prosperous village--

Not to be reclaimed or re-entered
but to legitimize
silence and distance,
distance of place, of time,
bewildering accuracy of imagination and dream--

I remember my childhood as a long wish to be elsewhere.
This is the house; this must be
the childhood I had in mind.

Louise Glück

Louise Glück was Poet Laureate in 2003-2004. The Monrovia Public Library has her books The Triumph of Achilles and The Seven Ages.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Portrait

My mother never forgave my father
for killing himself,
especially at such an awkward time
and in a public park,
that spring
when I was waiting to be born.
She locked his name
in her deepest cabinet
and would not let him out,
though I could hear him thumping.
When I came down from the attic
with the pastel portrait in my hand
of a long-lipped stranger
with a brave moustache
and deep brown level eyes,
she ripped it into shreds
without a single word
and slapped me hard.
In my sixty-fourth year
I can feel my cheek
still burning.

Stanley Kunitz

Stanley Kunitz was Poet Laureate from 1974 to 1976, and again from 2000 to 2001. The Monrovia Public Library has his books The Testing-Tree and Selected Poems, and his translation of poems of Anna Andreevna Akhmatova.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Finding books

mplasLearning the Dewey Decimal system is very easy. Take a look.

Click on the transparent box under GO to view the comic book.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sometimes comics are really fun. Try making your own at

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


It has been calculated that each copy of the Gutenburg Bible ... required the skins of 300 sheep.

--from an article on printing

I can see them squeezed into the holding pen
behind the stone building
where the printing press is housed,

all of them squirming around
to find a little room
and looking so much alike

it would be nearly impossible
to count them,
and there is no telling

which one will carry the news
that the Lord is a shepherd,
one of the few things they already know.

Billy Collins

Billy Collins was Poet Laureate from 2001-2003. The Monrovia Public Library has his books Sailing Alone Around the Room, Nine Horses, Daddy's Little Boy, and The Trouble with Poetry.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Two people meet. The sky turns winter,
quells whatever they would say.
Then, a periphery glance into danger--
and an avalanche already on its way.

They have been honest all of their lives;
careful, calm, never in haste;
they didn't know what it is to meet.
Now they have met: the world is waste.

They find they are riding an avalanche
feeling at rest, all danger gone.
The present looks out of their eyes; they stand
calm and still on a speeding stone.

William Stafford

William Stafford was Poet Laureate in 1970. The Monrovia Public Library has his books Allegiances, A Glass Face in the Rain, Oregon Message, Passwords, The Rescued Year, and Stories That Could Be True.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Any body can die, evidently. Few
Go happily, irradiating joy,

Knowledge, love. Many
Need oblivion, painkillers,
Quickest respite.

Sweet time unafflicted,
Various world:

X = your zenith.

Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky was Poet Laureate from 1997 to 2000. The Monrovia Public Library has his books Jersey Rain, History of My Heart, and the book he edited while Poet Laureate, Americans' Favorite Poems : The Favorite Poem Project Anthology.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Did you know...?

...that Bookseller magazine awards The Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year? And recently awarded the Diagram of Diagrams for the oddest book title in the last 30 years?

The oddest book title in the last 30 years is:

Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers

Other noteworthy winners and nominations are:

The Book of Marmalade: Its Antecedents, Its History and Its Role in the World Today
Versailles: The View From Sweden
People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It
How to Avoid Huge Ships
Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice
Butterworths Corporate Manslaughter Service
Bombproof Your Horse
The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification
The Joy of Sex: Pocket Edition
The Theory of Lengthwise Rolling
I Was Tortured By the Pygmy Love Queen
How to Write a How to Write Book
Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues
Cheese Problems Solved
Drawing and Painting the Undead

...and you can see more at

Unfortunately, the Monrovia Public Library doesn't seem to have any of these books. Whether there's a deeper meaning in these gaps in our collection could be a subject for much discussion...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Looking for a good book? Of course you are, and of course you know the library is the place to go, but how do you choose? There are a million ways, but here are some books about books that might point you in an interesting direction:

You’ve got to read this book! : 55 people tell the story of the book that changed their life / compiled by Jack Canfield, Gay Henricks, with Carol Kline

The Harvard guide to influential books : 113 distinguished Harvard professors discuss the books that have helped to shape their thinking / edited by C. Maury Devine, Claudia M. Dissel, Kim D. Parrish

The new lifetime reading plan / Clifton Fadiman and John Major

Every book its reader : the power of the printed word to stir the world / Nicholas A. Basbanes

The book that changed my life : 71 remarkable writers celebrate the books that matter most to them / edited by Roxanne J. Coady and Joy Johannessen

Book lust AND More book lust : recommended reading for every mood, moment, and reason / Nancy Pearl

Books that changed America / Robert B. Downs

Books that changed the world / Robert B. Downs

Good books : a book lover’s companion / Steven Gilbar

Now read this AND Now read this II : a guide to mainstream fiction / Nancy Pearl

What to read : the essential guide for reading group members and other book lovers / Mickey Pearlman

The 101 best graphic novels / by Stephen Weiner

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hungry for some entertainment? The Monrovia Public Library has some tasty mysteries, often spiced with recipes and puns. You might like to sink your teeth into these books. And these are only a few slices of the pie.

Diane Mott Davidson:
The Cereal Murders
Tough Cookie
Sticks & Scones
The Last Suppers

Tamar Myers:
Custard’s Last Stand
Thou Shalt Not Grill
The Crepes of Wrath
Eat, Drink, and Be Wary
Gruel and Unusual Punishment

G.A. McKevett:
Just Desserts
Bitter Sweets
Murder a la Mode
Peaches and Screams

Peter King:
Dine and Die on the Danube Express

Phyllis Richman:
Murder on the Gravy Train
The Butter Did It
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Ham?

Janet Laurence:
A Tasty Way to Die
Recipe for Death

Philip R. Craig:
A Vineyard Killing
Vineyard Blues

Susan Wittig Albert:
Thyme of Death
Rosemary Remembered
Chile Death
Lavender Lies

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How Do I Love You?

How do I love you? I don’t even know
Now we’re cut off again like a bad phone
(Faulty communications are my middle name.)
Everything is the same and not the same,
You are still here but also you are gone
And soon I shall be far away also.
How does it matter that I wish you well,
That no one weaken your resolve to go?
How do I love you? Is it just a game
To love your sadness and possess your name?
And now you have no reason to be sad
Do I lose the little of you that I had?
And if I’ve lost you who is there to blame?
(Faulty communications are my middle name.)

Karl Shapiro

Karl Shapiro was Poet Laureate in 1946-1947. The Monrovia Public Library has his books Poems 1940-1953, Collected Poems 1940-1978, The Bourgeois Poet, and White-Haired Lover.

Friday, August 22, 2008

"What music would have been played at a wedding in 1908?"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Sunday Phone Call

Drab December, sleet falling.
Dogs loosely fisted in torpor.
Horses nose-down in hay.
It’s the hour, years ago
I used to call my parents
or they’d call me.

The phone rings. Idly
empty of expectation
I answer. It’s my father’s
voice. Pop! I say, you’re dead!
Don’t you remember
that final heart attack
Dallas, just before
Kennedy was shot?

Time means nothing here,
He’s jolly, expansive.
You can wait eons for an open line.
Time gets used up but
comes back, you know.
Like Ping-Pong.

Ping-Pong! The table in
the attic. My father, shirtsleeves
rolled, the wet stub of
a burnt-out cigarette
stuck to his lower lip as
he murdered each one
of my three older brothers
and me yearning under the eaves
waiting for my turn.

You sound . . . just like yourself
I say. I am myself, godammit!
Anyway, what’s this
about an accident?

How did you hear about it?

I read it somewhere. Broke
your neck, etcetera.

He says this vaguely
his shorthand way
of keeping feelings at bay.

You mean you read
my memoir? Did
you know you’re in it?

Didn’t read that part. No
reason to stir things up.

Now I’m indignant.
But I almost died!

Didn’t I tell you
never buy land on a hill?
It’s worthless. What’s
an educated dame like you
doing messing with horses?
Messing with horses is
for punks.
(Then, a little
softer), I see you two’ve
put a lot of work into
that hunk of real estate.

Thanks. Thanks for even
noticing. We love it here.
We’ll never sell.

Like hell you won’t!
You will!

I say, tearing up,
let’s not fight for once.
My only Poppa, when
do I get to see you?

A long pause. Then
coughing his cigarette cough
Pupchen, he says
I may be dead but
I’m not clairvoyant.
Behave yourself.

The line clicks off.

Maxine Kumin

Maxine Kumin was Poet Laureate from 1981-82, and was Poet Laureate of the state of New Hampshire from 1989-94. The Monrovia Public Library has her books Up Country, Jack, Looking for Luck, The Nightmare Factory, and The Microscope.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Boarding House

The blind man draws his curtains for the night
and goes to bed, leaving a burning light

above the bathroom mirror. Through the wall,
he hears the deaf man walking down the hall

in his squeaky shoes to see if there’s a light
under the blind man’s door, and all is right.

Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser was Poet Laureate from 2004-2006. The Monrovia Public Library has his books Delights and Shadows, Braided Creek, Weather Central, Flying at Night, Sure Signs, and The Poetry Home Repair Manual.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Your Death

On the day that will always belong to you,
lunar clockwork had faltered
and I was certain. Walking
the streets of Manhattan I thought:
Remember this day. I felt already
like an urn, filling with wine.

To celebrate, your son and I
took a stroll through Bloomingdale's
where he developed a headache
among the copper skillets and
tiers of collapsible baskets.
Pain tracked us through
the china, driving us
finally to the subway
and home,

where the phone was ringing
with bad news. Even now,
my new daughter
asleep in the crib, I can't shake
the moment his headache stopped
and the day changed ownership.
I felt robbed. Even the first
bite of the tuna fish sandwich
I had bought at the corner
became yours.

Rita Dove

Rita Dove was Poet Laureate from 1993-1995. The Monrovia Public Library has her books American Smooth, Grace Notes, and On the Bus With Rosa Parks.

"Why is a Kaiser roll called a Kaiser roll?"

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Solipsism & Solecism

Strange about shadows, but the sun
Has never seen a single one.
Should night be mentioned by the moon
He'd be appalled at what he's done.

Howard Nemerov

Howard Nemerov was Poet Laureate in 1963-64 and again in 1988-90. The Monrovia Public Library has his book Gnomes & Occasions.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The reference desk covers a lot of territory, but librarians--since we are not lawyers--do not give legal advice. Sometimes we have to send a patron off with good wishes, wondering what a lawyer will do with a question such as this one:

"My husband was abusive. Now I have cancer. I don't know if it's connected. Should I sue the hospital or my ex-husband?"

Friday, June 27, 2008

Check out Wordle for wasting time creatively! Create word clouds with your own series of words.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Help us make a paper chain to surround the library! Stop by the reference desk and add a colored link with your favorite author, book, book character, movie, movie character, or website. We’ll be adding links all summer. The chain is about seven feet long after only two days—let’s keep going!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Job-hunting? Just starting out? Making a career change? The library has many books with career advice and ideas, including these in the VGM Careers for You series. See if one of them suits you:

Careers for bookworms & other literary types
Careers for film buffs & other Hollywood types
Careers for scientific types & others with inquiring minds
Careers for car buffs & other freewheeling types
Careers for kids at heart & others who adore children
Careers for fashion plates & other trendsetters
Careers for self-starters & other entrepreneurial types
Careers for good samaritans & other humanitarian types
Careers for patriotic types & others who want to serve their country
Careers for sports nuts & other athletic types
Careers for the stagestruck & other dramatic types
Careers for gourmets & others who relish food
Careers for computer buffs & other technological types
Careers for health nuts & others who like to stay fit

Suggested reading for those who like mysteries featuring cats, dogs, and the occasional dinosaur:

“The cat who…” mysteries by Lilian Jackson Braun, featuring Koko and Yum Yum
The Midnight Louie mysteries by Carol Nelson Douglas
The Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries by Rita Mae Brown
The Alice Nestleton mysteries by Lydia Adamson
Mysteries by Marian Babson
The Joe Grey mysteries by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Dog lover’s mysteries by Susan Conant
The bloodhound mysteries by Virginia Lanier
The Melanie Travis mysteries by Laurien Berenson

The Rex mysteries by Eric Garcia

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Is there a celestial body called Andromeda? How do you spell it? Is it going to collide with Earth?"

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Librarians, like everyone else, like to know that their work has been useful. "Thank you for finding me that book on snakes. I had to force-feed my python and he's okay now."