(the second half of this poem is in Albert Goldbarth: "Library" part 2)
so there she (i) was avoiding homework, complaining about 4 or 5 more!!! pages to type, wondering should i hit control-c, when my mouse moved by ITSELF, and erased this poem. NOT everything trite and chatty above, about how my mom had bought Saving Lives for me after hearing Albert Goldbarth on National Public Radio. or how there is a stunning black-and-white cover photo of a man’s arm reaching down to a woman’s, and they meet vertically, their hands clasped in front of a shadowed stone wall. no, that nonsense remained!!! my mouse only erased the poem! without asking! this (gnashing teeth) is why cats chase mice!!! anyway, here is the first poem of the book again, i am now typing it in Word, and it was published in Saving Lives in 2001 by The Ohio State University.
(mea culpa; i haven’t the patience to pull out my cd and install other languages so that i can put an accent over the “e” in Al-Mellikah or a tilde over Castaneda.) / typing “Around 1000 A.D.” hope you’re enjoying. one more page!! / done! he is, btw, Distinguished Professor of Humanities in the Department of English at Wichita State University.
This book saved my life.
This book takes place on one of the two small tagalong moons of Mars.
This book requests its author’s absolution, centuries after his death.
This book required two of the sultan’s largest royal elephants to bear it; this other book fit into a gourd.
This book reveals The Secret Name of God, and so its author is on a death list.
This is the book I lifted high over my head, intending to smash a roach in my girlfriend’s bedroom; instead, my back unsprung, and I toppled painfully into her bed, where I stayed motionless for eight days.
This is a “book.” That is, an audiocassette. This other “book” is a screen and a microchip. This other “book,” the sky.
In chapter 3 of this book, a woman tries explaining her husband’s tragically humiliating death to their daughter: reading it is like walking through a wall of setting cement.
This book taught me everything about sex.
This book is plagiarized.
This book is transparent; this book is a codex in Aztec; this book, written by a prisoner, in dung; the wind is turning the leaves of this book: a hill-top olive as thick as a Russian novel.
This book is a vivisected frog, and ova its text.
This book was dictated by Al-Mellikah, the Planetary Spirit of the Seventh Realm, to his intermediary on Earth (the Nineteenth Realm), who published it, first in mimeograph, and many editions later in gold-stamped leather.
This book taught me everything wrong about sex.
This book poured its colors into my childhood so strongly they remain a dye in my imagination today.
This book is by a poet who makes me sick.
This is the first book in the world.
This is a photograph from Vietnam, titled “Buddhist nuns copying scholarly Buddhist texts in the pagoda.”
This book smells like salami.
This book is continued in volume 2.
He was driving—evidently by some elusive, interior radar, since he was busy reading a book propped on the steering wheel.
This book picks on men.
This is the split Red Sea: two heavy pages.
In this book I underline deimos, cabochon, pelagic, hegira. I wanted to use them.
This book poured its bile into my childhood.
This book defames women.
This book was smuggled into the country one page at a time, in tiny pill containers, in hatbands, in the cracks of asses; sixty people risked their lives repeatedly over this one book.
This book is nuts!!!
This book cost more than a seven-story chalet in the Tall Oaks subdivision.
This book—I don’t remember.
This book is a hoax, and a damnable lie.
This chapbook was set in type and printed by hand, by Larry Levi’s then-wife, the poet Marcia Southwick, in 1975. It’s 1997 now and Larry’s dead—too early, way too early—and this elliptical, heartbreaking poem (which is, in part, exactly about too early death) keeps speaking to me from its teal-green cover: the way they say the nails and the hair continue to grow in the grave.
This book is two wings and a thorax the size of a sunflower seed.
This book gave me a hard-on.
This book is somewhere under those other books way over there.
This book deflected a bullet.
This book provided a vow I took.
If they knew you owned this book, they’d come and get you; it wouldn’t be pretty.
This book is a mask: its author isn’t anything like it.
This book is by William Matthews, a wonderful poet, who died today, age fifty-five. Now Larry Levis has someone he can talk to.
This book is an “airplane book” (but not about airplanes; meant to be read on an airplane; also, available every three steps in the airport). What does it mean, to “bust” a “block”?
This is the book I pretended to read one day in the Perry-Castaneda Library browsing room, but really I was rapt in covert appreciation of someone in a slinky skirt that clung like kitchen plasticwrap. She squiggled near and pointed to the book. “It’s upside-down,” she said.
For the rest of the afternoon I was so flustered that when I finally left the library…this is the book, with its strip of magnetic-code tape, that I absentmindedly walked with through the security arch on the first day of its installation, becoming the first (though unintentional) light-fingered lifter of books to trigger the Perry-Castaneda alarm, which hadn’t been fine-tuned as yet, and sounded even louder than the sirens I remember from grade school air-raid drills, when the principal had us duck beneath our desks and cover our heads—as if gabled—with a book.
The chemical formulae for photosynthesis: this book taught me that.
And this book taught me what a “merkin” is.
The cover of this book is fashioned from the tanned skin of a favorite slave.
This book is inside a computer now.
This “book” is made of knotted string; and this, of stone; and this, the gut of a sheep.
This book existed in a dream of mine, and only there.
This book is a talk-show paperback with shiny gold raised lettering on the cover. (Needless to say, not one by me.)
This is a book of prohibitions; this other, a book of rowdy license. They serve equally to focus the prevalent chaos of our lives.
This book is guarded around the clock by men in navy serge and gold braiding, carrying very capable guns.
This is the book that destroyed a marriage. Take it, burn it, before it costs us more.
This book is an intercom for God.
This book I slammed against a wall.
My niece wrote this book in crayon and glitter.
This is the book (in a later paperback version) by which they recognized the sea-leached, battered, and otherwise-unidentifiable body of Shelley.
****: I forgot to send in the card, and now the Book Club has billed me twice for Synopses of 400 Little-Known Operas.
This book is filled with sheep and rabbits, calmly promenading in their tartan vest and bow ties, with their clay pipes, in their Easter Sunday salad-like hats. The hills are gently rounded. The sun is a clear, firm yolk. The world will never be this sweetly welcoming again.
This book is studded with gems that have the liquid depth of aperitifs.
This book, 1,000 Wild Nights, is actually wired to give an electr/YOWCH!
This book I stole from Cornell University’s Olin Library in the spring of 1976. Presumably, its meter’s still running. Presumably, it still longs for its Dewey’d place in the dim-lit stacks.
This book has a bookplate reminding me, in Latin, to use my scant time well.
It’s the last day of the semester. My students are waiting to sell their textbooks back to the campus store, like crazed racehorses barely restrained at the starting gate.
This book caused a howl / a stir / a ruckus / an uproar.
This book became a movie; they quickly raised the cover price.
This book is the Key to the Mysteries.
This book has a bookplate: a man and a woman have pretzeled themselves into one lubricious shape.
This book came apart in my hands.
This book is austere; it’s like holding a block of dry ice.
This Bible is in Swahili.
This book contains seemingly endless pages of calculus—it may as well be in Swahili.
This is the book I pretended to read while Ellen’s lushly naked body darkened into sleep beside me. And this is the book I pretended to read in the waiting room once, as a cardiac specialist razored into my father’s chest. And THIS book I pretended having read once, when I interviewed for a teaching position: “Oh yes,” I said,”of course,” and spewed a stream of my justly famous golden bull**** into the conference room.