From very old books, I read of things extinct, including the very old book itself. The knowledge is there to be gleaned. Turning poems into pulp. Silly to talk or write of cake, still I think of one that calls for a dozen eggs when I should be talking of paper and print, or talking to plush teddy bears strapped to the grills of garbage trucks.

Or growing a Tree of Light.

Bernadette’s eggshell crumbled on the ground.
I want to write an elegy with a happy ending.


Outside the door, on a Friday, a long, gray blade parallel to the car.
A white bridled horse on its hind legs.
Smashed in baby head with blue eyes,
torso in overalls,
pink rocket with a dirty nose.
These are what I gathered, but they are not the ingredients for making fire.

Opening the metal case on the street: 1970s patent pending, a cloth covered cord leads to an ancient apparatus. A gun or is it a camera? An eye of light or God?

I’ve opened the box on the street.
Floppy disks brush my hand.

I fear the full bag of bedclothes on the stoop.
Mattress against garbage barrels, blue and upright.

I am afraid of the cathode ray loose on the street.
Panic travels through the blood as easy as aspirin.

Wet coin purse on newspaper box, pressed down on its wetness, felt the ribs of its construction, and left.

Pigeon couple, one carrying a load in its beak, ignores a lost blue button.

Coming across a cut cord on the street, not enough to wrap a package or neck. Pennies on the sidewalk die there.

The half booth barely shelters. Cup and spoon lay inside the hood: vanished, vomited, bedazzled, fingered, rejected, cursed. The receiver, beaten to pieces, dangles. Once-wooden doors pulled shut, like a wall crypt pulled tight for privacy.

Privacy is an obscene notion, I hear everyone’s keystrokes.

Sure, I can get at the drawings or language of making things: instruction manuals for making fire or cookbooks for explosives or poisons. I’m on the case already. I have found out why we stand tall, who the commanders of the great ships are, how to eat and be healthy. I have learned the story of the microscope and of birds which dress in blue and purple, of how to read a sea shell. Of Monsters of the Land and Sky, these can only be read once as the pages crumble in the hand. I commit to memory these facts of this earth.

Of postcards sold of an extinct view, or postcard of the great swans of Long Island, or of the skyline of Manhattan from a paddle wheel steamer. Braggarts send picture postcards from the plains of a sod house. Pinup playing card laid on the stoop.

Eyes touched to the slip of tissue that separates his fingers from the tail as his friend takes a photo. Should be more careful with what I touch with my eyes. Saw the red hole in its side and take the residue to dinner.