Meesh Montoya


On the back of an old bodega receipt
I keep a running list of all the books I would buy you as gifts
if you were still my friend.

You’d definitely read them —
I’m not good at many things but giving is one of them —
and you’d tell me if they were worth borrowing,
but you’d of course know that I didn’t just buy them
for the chance to borrow them from you.

I don’t need to do that (I’m a librarian for fuck’s sake)
and besides that’s not what gifts are about.

It wouldn’t work the same if I read them anyway.
Your eyes and the words react like vinegar and baking soda;
I’m just a kid with a chemistry set.

So I never read the books,
but I keep the list
in the zippered coin compartment in my wallet
with other useless things like nickels.

And just like ridiculous nickels,
too big for their worth,
I hang onto the titles
because they might come in handy someday.

Meesh Montoya is a public librarian from New York. Her rent is more than 50% of her monthly earnings, and her student loan debt is more than she makes in a year, so she must be a millennial. Visit her at and on social media at @meeshuggeneh