mackknopf: (Books)
[personal profile] mackknopf
I used to keep a poetry notebook, now sadly much neglected.  I was browsing through the pages recently.  Perhaps I'll start keeping it again, who knows?  But poetry was never my forte.  Most of the time, I wrote doggerel when I tried to rhyme, or free verse when I didn't.  Since free verse is almost like writing prose anyway, I just naturally made my way in time towards that medium, with short stories, essays, articles, and what-have-you. 

I even took a poetry writing workshop at UC Berkeley, led by Professor Ismael Reed, a fairly well-known figure in the area.  It was fun, but it did teach me what my strengths were.  Or perhaps not, since somehow I specialized in poetry while getting my English Bachelors and did a Masters in English Literature, heavy concentration on the Romantic Poets.  In retrospect, I have no idea what I was thinking.  Rhetoric or journalism classes might have been far more useful, though not as exciting in the same way.

In any event, here's a poem I wrote four years ago, followed by a later response to myself.  The original poem was itself a reply to a piece, "Dreams of a Lover," by M. A. Mohanraj, who used to edit the online magazine Strange Horizons while I was working as an articles editor.


The dust fills the air as you move the books out, gently lifting the battered paperbacks to their new home in the box.  It’s only for a little while, and the bottom shelf wasn’t good for them.  The grey powder and grit are strong, but not as strong as the odor of the yellowing paper itself.  Your nose itches, but you don't mind,  because that smell is the smell of old friends, and they never grow old, only familiar.


I straighten my back, military posture, as I survey the shelves.  Old friends have worn out their welcome.  They're not flesh and blood, after all, though their spirits have filled my mind full of images and words.  Clearing out the past makes room for the future, though, and it's time to become empty again.  So with sorrow, I take down the old paperbacks to make room for new books.  The box for the library store is empty, waiting to be filled.  Friends can sometimes last a lifetime, but these have nothing more to say to me.  I know their stories now.  The hardbacks remain, more durable than the others, but someday even their time may come.

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March 2012

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