Three readers down and one to go,
the oddballs now are on the prowl
patrolling the fringes, waiting for their hour
to come around, the silence sure at last to fall,
and theirs to fill. What goes before,
each featured reader’s twenty-minute stint,
to them is nothing pertinent, a glazing-over bore
to be outlasted, self-absorbed, before
they take the floor themselves, which each one does
with simulated diffidence,
as if his arm were twisted hard to make him read.
What draws them here?
They are everywhere,
in every city in America.
This intense public solitude.
Each man messianic to himself.
The audience of one inside the head.