Unpermitted Encroachments

(SF city notice to remove a Little Free Library from a sidewalk)

It’s what they call a feature story,
not mainstream news,
about the little free library,
not a building embraced by Corinthian columns,
but a small replica of the San Francisco home
it’s set before,
a “book-bearing box”, this little free library
now cited for encroachment unpermitted,
a bench placed near, encouraging strollers to stop,
stay a while, check out a book or two.
The citing states this stopping
encumbered sidewalks,
urged lingering. Its edict, rather:
don’t linger, interrupt others,
don’t leave or lend books,
don’t share, just move on.
Mistook the message of generosity,
clouded it with syllables like unpermitted,
rallied neighbors to protest,
to help the little library stay open, day and night,
bench included to add stopping for a while
for much too busy lives, encouraging reflection
in a world where rapid and running
too often replace
reading’s still sanctuary.
The little free library lives!

About the Poem

Reading about the citation issued to a little free library in San Francisco, I was concerned that time had been taken to remove something that was an obvious enhancement to society, to a neighborhood. Fortunately, public outcry has helped reason be restored. It made me think of how important it is to stop and share and sit — reading what others have written about our world — on streets where so many rush through their lives.

About the Author

Barbara Simmons grew up in Boston, and resides in California –both coasts inform her poetry. A graduate of Wellesley College, she received an MA in Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins, and an MA in Education and Counseling from Santa Clara University. A retired educator, she continues to savor life and language, exploring words as ways to remember, envision, celebrate, mourn, and try to understand. Publications have included Boston Accent, NewVerse News, Topical Poetry, DoubleSpeak, Soul-Lit, 300 Days of Sun, Capsule Stories – Summer Edition, Swimming, Journal of Expressive Writing, and her recently published book, Offertories: Exclamations and Disequilbriums, Friesen Press.

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