Poetry is news that stays news. -- Ezra Pound
On the phone, my father recalls
his time in the Charleston High School
print shop, the hours he spent
standing in a shaft of moted sunlight
plucking the s, the e, the t from the California Job Case,
sliding them into the composing stick.
I printed The Book Strap, he says, the school
newspaper. You remember. I do remember,
twenty five years behind him, how each Friday
I was eager to see who’d been chosen
Student of the Week, what would be said
about the weekend game, which teacher
might reveal some amazing fact (she
drives a Mustang?). I never thought about
who set the type, which boys in their rolled-up
sleeves and aprons, Industrial Arts boys,
brought words to the page, made sure
their was not there, united not untied.
I tell my father I’m calling late
because on Monday night I teach
the Book Arts class. I’ve spent four
hours pointing out the gears
and shafts on the Chandler & Price,
how to treadle the press, how to choose
and distribute type: Bembo, Baskerville,
Garamond, Helvetica, Goudy Old Style,
Spartan Bold, a poem on my tongue.
I was College Prep, in 4th year
Latin, not woodworking,
physics, not shop.
Even then I loved the printed page,
texture of rag and linen
more than Laws of Motion,
letters aligning toward the mystery
called word, words busy to tell it all.
My father says he liked the work,
the steady rhythm of a story coming up.
Three quarters of a century later, he’s proud
he always got out the news on time.
We say goodnight. Before I go
to bed, I work to set the last
line of this poem.
Guillermo Delgado’s Untitled #18, 2010, mixed media on wc paper, 6” x 12″