Photo by Christopher Raley


In some distant time books will be gone and
words will shift and melt together on screens
thin as air. Words as objects will be lost
and we’ll live in skies of our own creation.

But kinesthesia will ever call to some:
So it will be these chosen few descend
our Babel scrapers to find buried bones
of former times. Lonely, disaffected
with no paper, no pen, they will gouge in
their elders’ prosaic domains the works
that once were tangible as well as thought
making dun temples from dead utility.
Pilgrims to these sights will find Shakespeare’s Sonnets
scratched on bathroom stalls over phone numbers
of easy girls long since gone to dust.
The Wasteland will adorn gas station pumps.
Ovid will travel sidewalks and driveways
of ghosted suburban neighborhoods.

Can you imagine? To read a novel
you must leave your home and diminish to
the catacombs of the life you now live.
Take with you only what you can carry.
Of food and water, ration these things as
lesser to words themselves upon your tongue.
In the ever dark of what used to be day,
in the heart of what used to be city
you open a door and enter to read:
Call me Ishmael. Now you must travel
to a place you do not know or expect:
Through hallways, in and out of buildings,
along brick or stucco sidings, past rows
of cubicles, in tortuous alleys,
down manholes, along the curved walls of sewers,
up to dead parks, into flat roofed houses
crushed together like coffins. On and on
you go as the city thins and the lights
you carry with you die or give up and
you wonder: has our whole life now blocked out
day entire? Is there no stretch of earth
we have not covered? And you wonder:
What am I to do? How do I return
having come so far? I cannot unread this
walking backwards away from what I know.
And as you feel the end must be near
you find yourself as if in a strange hall, reading
from matches decreasing in their own book,
creeping word by word, your journey in life
having linked to the journey below as if
all this time you have followed through
hidden conception to be birthed by some
aphotic animal, alive yet still,
growing yet remaining unchanged
up to the last door until, with your hand
on the knob and fear in your eyes, you read:
It was devious-cruising ‘Rachel’
that in her retracing search after her
missing children, only found another orphan.
Hoping for some balm, you open the door
and are blinded by the sun.