The Northville Review
an online literary journal
Leadbelly’s Lagoon

Dennis Mahagin

“Is it something out of a science fiction
movie?” the librarian asked. I was trying
to be so quiet — while she helped me
look for a book that could change
my life. “Do you smell it?” she
asked; we stood, dead center
in the aisle of Biographies.
I stared at the spines — Sting,
Bob Mitchum, Moliere,
Jimiroquoi, John Prine
and Cher — more than a
bit scared I suppose
— while those

road crew fools
kept on paving a new
parking lot, outside,
orange vests bobbing, spotting
the sun-streaked window panes,
and hot tar that bubbled,
bubbled up
everywhere. Oh, I needed
a name, or word only, some
thing to buck me up

while I faced the next change,

and the one after

that, as a Louisiana blues man doing life
time for murder might write such a fine tune

for all the world a governor’s got no choice

but to let him be … to set him

free … “A voice, I suppose
or something … similarly,” I advised,
yet knowing I would probably be haunting
her library for as long as we both drew

breath. “Say,” I said, “any chance you
go by the name … Irene?” She glanced

out the bay
windows with a look
that seemed to say she was way
beyond weary of all books, could rise
any moment from the sludge of
drudgery, take me off dripping, for Seattle,
to see a concert by Puddle
of Mud. “Why, aren’t you the little
perky one?” this librarian whispered
when I closed my eyes, I saw stripes
and bottle neck slides, millions
of mullions on summer window
She beckoned with a flip
of her come along wrist, into the
Music stack, that hot tar speckle
cum tang all up in my

sometimes I feel just
like a fugitive from
the chain gang.

About the author

Dennis Mahagin's poems and stories appear in magazines such as Exquisite Corpse, Juked, Stirring, Smokelong Quarterly, Storyglossia, and Connotation Press. A chapbook of his poems, entitled "Fare" is currently available for purchase on the Fried Chicken and Coffee website: