Famous writers feast on it --

drift in at the last moment, 


flowing print dress or tweed jacket,

wrinkled shirt, hair a mess.


At the podium, they smile kindly, 

offer excuses for being late --


stopped to watch a clock tower burn,

heard it chime out in fright,


saw blackened doves take flight.

They reach into purse, ragged pack,


paper bag, finally bring out

a new volume of their work.


The moment may be near --

first, search pockets for glasses,


ask for water, room temp, no ice.

Adjust microphone, tap it, say


the book is for sale afterward -- 

at last, begin reading. Slowly,


they mouth each word as if

it were the rounded nub 


of a chicken bone. They suck out

every last bit of marrow.

                             Timothy Pilgrim