only two things in my sphere
are meticulously kept

my sock drawer
and my book shelves

the socks are a fetish
but the book collection
is an archive of my life

i’ve lost count of the numbers
but it’s more than a thousand

volumes lining the walls
with secrets and keepsakes tucked inside

photographs, autographs
playbills, museum pamphlets,
bits of painted canvas cut into bookmarks,
pressed flowers
and prayer cards

i had finished reading a book overnight
so there i sat before my altar once again
seeking an instrument of destruction

that’s when i heard gertrude stein mumbling
about tender buttons
objects, food, and rooms analyzed
on the third shelf down
two partitions from the right

it’s a copy acquired from a used bookstore
i like to think of it as a means of rescue

i discovered this particular book
was originally sold
at the miami university of oxford’s
student book store

to my delight i see
the entire volume is filled
with painstaking highlights
in blue, green, and orange
and droll, unprofound notes
angrily scribbled in the margins

this student truly hated a run on sentence
it messed with his mind
breaking those rules
prose poetry just didn’t suit this kid
i knew it was a “him” because the commentary and hand writing were
distinctly male in nature

he hated this book
he hated dikey gertrude stein

but the real kick in the taint came
when i saw he had scratched
the professor’s name
the section number
and the course
inside the front cover

the name of a professor
i had quite recently fucked
with the same enthusiasm
as this downtrodden student
who had taken his class

henry j. fate, PhD

a torrent of life-coming-full-circle-laughter
rose to my office rafters

drowning alice b. toklas

romantic notions of dying in paris in 1946

the thoughts of impotent readers

and a century of useless literary discourse