Sunday, February 1, 2009

Discounting Lynn

I find it in the twenty-five-cent bin,
which I browse biweekly for the book
that will explain why my hand
seems so misty lately, even
with my new glasses on,
why it can't hold on to anything
with the grip of commitment,
not even a fork which looks
unsettling these days
like half a set of silver teeth
so I bend down low and I choose.
This book has been through a lot:
since it's poetry, I imagine
it had trouble finding a publisher,
so now rub in this further indignity:
abandoned by the bookseller
at a discount of 25%, and then
dumped by the first owner for profit
in a used bookstore ($9.70 -
how pathetic, not even $9.99)
relegated then to an even more desperately
used bookstore ($2 - handwritten
on a round orange sticker)
and now given up for lost, now
25c slashed sloppily in pencil on the flyleaf.
The book looks fairly readable, a Lynn
wrote it. Maybe not, though, maybe just
a pseudonym. Actual name possibly
Lila-Jean, someone trying to abridge
her native floridity, sound more seriously
friendly, solid, actual, northern.
I find the right spot to read this book:
under an oak tree whose acorns are so small
they seem toy-like underfoot, scattered by a child's
imagination, not capable of reproduction
or supplying half a squirrel's midnight snack,
here beside the Muffler 'n Brake Shop
and two dumpsters. Stacked railroad ties
form a half-bench beneath the tree.
A place where you can smoke a cigarette
and in effect throw yourself away
to prepare for reading this thrice-junked text.
On the backleaf some notes are scribbled
by one of the owners, presumably the first,
who invested the most to read the book
and needed a return on that investment.
many characters are doing something on the page
I don't mind the lack of punctuation, but I do
like a thought and I think
how fortunate I rescued this book
from such a dodo:
book draws you out of the text
and really it says texl because she was so
done with this book she couldn't bother
to cross her t. Well honey good riddance.
I can't help thinking she. Does some post-
Paleolithic, prefeminst corner of my psyche
suspect that men still tend not to buy
slender poetry paperbacks by Lynns?
But at least there's some substance
to that note and I read some pages to see
if there's anything in it. Could be.
What if this Lynn were to become our era's
Dickinson? What if she already is!
Then I start writing this because my hand
feels misty again, "Lynn" hasn't helped
one jot. Nor has anti-Lynn, or whoever
said the words Lynn's ex-reader wrote,
since it could have been a professor
with a name like a sneeze. Dr. Hatchitt.
I write this on the backleaf, weaving in
and out of his/her scribbles. Then I relent
because an author can't be blamed for her
readers and turn to the last page of texl,
where authors tend to plant their most
magic beans, and just as I'm getting
to the sentence that is about me, I'm
stung on the back of the hand by a sweat bee.
But the sentence turns out to be about Lynn,
Lila-Jean, not me. And I'm not sweating at all,
or I wasn't then, and officially that was no bee.

J. Allyn Rosser from Foiled Again.