(Wrote this many years ago, but it's one of my favorites if I do say so myself.)
I'LL TAKE THE BOOKS-YOU KEEP THE CAT
Aeschylus crowded in the cardboard box
that still has duct tape from the move last summer, and
Sartre, sleeping in the same corner with Whitman.
Words pressed against pages against
covers against each other and I wonder
how they get along in there,
so close with no space to breathe, but rather taking
in the pulpy juice of basement must.
Grandpa’s Modern Mechanics growing black mold from sitting in the shop with
sawdust, still smelling like his tobacco caught between his teeth spit
out in the bucket under the table during dinner with Grandma screaming,
“Not in my house.”
But now it’s time to mix sonnets with soliloquies and
I think I’m not ready for this as I throw
them to their literary death, none more important than the next,
Austen sharing her final resting place with Judy Blume,
from sixth grade when my English teacher-a bitter old nag with cow legs,
told me my favorite author was mediocre, and I felt
mediocre taking in nouns and verbs and pronouns that didn’t seem like a real
language, but rather a
math equation where two trains are supposed to meet at a
certain station at a
certain time that
I never figured out or would ever care to know because I didn’t buy a ticket and I wasn’t
but it was important when my knees were still knobby and scabs were cool and told stories of bike rides that ended too quickly on our gravel road by the house where the dog
never stopped barking.
Shakespeare and Yeats, Hurston and Hughes are the last to go
always hard to put down
when the candles burn
slow like the hours when sleep is in the other room and I am in
mine wondering why you stay
on your side of the bed as I sift through the pages,
reading nothing but staring at sentences and words that make a song like your breath
on the pillow with no rhyme or meter
like wind caught in the crevice of a leaf’s belly.
Into the back seat, the box with all its wisdom
shaking to the beat of tires on the street.