(the first half of this poem is in Albert Goldbarth: "Library" part 1. again, published by Albert Goldbarth in 2001 by The Ohio State University.)
This book was signed by the author 15 minutes before she died.
This is Erhard Ratdolf’s edition of Johann Regimontanus’s astronomical and astrological calendar (1476)—it contains “the first true title-page.”
She snatched this book from a garbage can, just as Time was about to swallow it out of the visible world irrevocably. To this day, her grandchildren read it.
This book: Braille. This one: handmade paper, with threads of the poet’s own bathrobe as part of the book’s rag content. This one: the cover is hollowed glass, with a goldfish swimming around the title.
This is my MFA thesis. Its title is Goldbarth’s MFA Thesis.
This is the cookbook used by Madame Curie. It still faintly glows, seven decades later.
This book is the shame of an entire nation.
This book is one of fourteen matching volumes, like a dress parade.
This is the book I’m writing now. It’s my best! (But where should I send it?)
This book doesn’t do anyth/ oh wow, check THIS out!
This is the book I bought for my nephew, 101 Small Physics Experiments. Later he exchanged it for The Book of Twerps and Other Pukey Things, and who could blame him?
This book is completely marred by the handiwork of the Druckfehlerteufel—the “imp who supplies the misprints.”
This book has a kind of aurora-like glory radiating from it. There should be versions of uranium detectors that register glory-units from books.
We argued over this book in the days of the divorce. I kept it, she kept the stained-glass window from Mike and Mimi.
Yes, he was supposed to be on the 7:05 to Amsterdam. But he stayed at home, to finish this whodunit. And so he didn’t crash.
This book has a browned corsage pressed into it. I picked up both for a dime at the Goodwill.
“A diet of berries, vinegar, and goat’s milk” will eventually not only cure your cancer, but will allow a man to become impregnated (diagrams explain this)—also, there’s serious philosophy about Jews who control “the World Order” in this book.
This book reads from right to left. This book comes with a small wooden top attached by a saffron ribbon. This book makes the sound of a lion, a train, or a cuckoo clock, depending where you press its cover.
I’ve always admired this title from 1481: The Myrrour of the Worlde.
This book is from the 1950’s; the jacket says it’s “a doozie.”
This book is by me. I found it squealing piteously, poor piglet, in the back of a remainders bin. I took it home and nursed it.
This book let me adventure with Interplanetary Police.
I threw myself, an aspirant, against the difficult theories this book propounded, until my spirit was bruised. I wasn’t any smarter—just bruised.
This book is magic. There’s more inside it than outside.
This is the copy of the Iliad that Alexander the Great took with him, always, on his expeditions—“in,” Thoreau says, “a precious casket."
Help! (thump) I’ve been stuck in this book all week and I don’t know how to get out! (thump)
This is the book of poetry I read from at my wedding to Morgan. We were divorced. The book (Fred Chappell’s River) is still on my shelf, like an admonishment.
This book is stapled (they’re rusted by now); this book, bound in buttery leather; this book’s pages are chemically treated leaves; this book, the size of a peanut, is still complete with indicia and an illustrated colophon page.
So tell me: out of what grim institution for the taste-deprived and the sensibility-challenged do they find the cover artists for these books?
This book I tried to carry balanced on my head with seven others.
This book I actually licked.
This book—remember? I carved a large hold in its pages, a “how-to magazine for boys” said this would be a foolproof way to hide my secret treasures. Then I remember I didn’t have any secret treasures worth hiding. Plus, I was down one book.
This book is nothing but jackal crap; unfortunately, its royalties have paid for two Rolls-Royces and a mansion in the south of France.
This book is said to have floated off the altar of the church, across the village square, and into the hut of a peasant woman in painful labor.
This is what he was reading when he died. The jacket copy says it’s a “real page-turner—you can’t put it down!” I’m going to assume he’s in another world now, completing the story.
This book hangs by a string in an outhouse, and every day it gets thinner.
This book teaches you how to knit a carrying case for your rosary; this one, how to build a small but lethal incendiary device.
This book has pop-up pages with moveable parts, intended to look like the factory room where pop-up books are made.
If you don’t return that book I loaned you, I’m going to smash your face.
This book says the famously saintly woman was really a ring-tailed trash-mouth dirty-down ***** queen. Everyone’s reading it!
There are stains in this book that carry a narrative greater than its text.
The Case of _____. How to_____. Books books books.
I know great petulant stormy swatches and peaceful lulls of this book by heart.
I was so excited, so jazzed up!—but shortly thereafter they found me asleep, over pages 6 and 7 of this soporific book. (I won’t say by who.)
And on her way back to her seat, she fell (the multiple sclerosis) and refused all offered assistance. Instead, she used her book she’d been reading from, as a prop, and worked herself pridefully back up to a standing position.
They gave me this book for free at the airport. Its cover features an Indian god with the massive head of an elephant, as brightly blue as a druid, flinging flowers into the air and looking unsurpassably wise.
My parents found this book in my bottom drawer, and spanked the living hell into my butt.
This book of yours, you tell me, was optioned by Hollywood for eighty-five impossibajillion dollars? Oh. Congratulations.
They lowered the esteemed and highly published professor into his grave. A lot of silent weeping. A lot of elegiac rhetoric. And one man shaking his head in the chill December wind dumbfoundedly, who said, “And he perished anyway.”
Although my eighth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Hurd, always said, “Whenever you open a book, remember: that author lives again.”
After this book, there was no turning back.
Around 1000 A.D., when the Magyars were being converted to Christianity, Magyar children were forced to attend school for the first time in their cultural history: “therefore the Magyar word konyv means tears as well as book.”
This book, from when I was five, with its fuzzy ducklings, and my mother’s voice in the living room of the second-story apartment over the butcher shop on Division Street…I’m fifty now. I’ve sought out, and I own now, one near-mint and two loose, yellowing copies that mean to me as much as the decorated gold masks and the torsos of marble meant to the excavators of Troy.
This book gave me a paper cut.
This book set its mouth on my heart, and sucked a mottled tangle of blood to the surface.
I open this book and smoke pours out, I open this book and a bad sleet slices my face, I open this book: the spiky scent of curry, I open this book and hands grab forcefully onto my hair as if in violent sex, I open this book: the wingbeat of a seraph, I open this book: the edgy cat-pain wailing of the damned thrusts up in a column as sturdy around as a giant redwood, I open this book: the travel of light, I open this book and it’s as damp as a wound, I open this book and I fall inside it farther than any physics, stickier than the jelly we scrape from cracked bones, cleaner than what we tell our children in the dark when they’re afraid to close their eyes at night.
And this book can’t be written yet: it’s author isn’t born yet.
This book is going to save the world.