They’ve not been shelved, despite their space,
though most unleaved, a collage built
through time and place in unity,
each tome a tale from memory,
the books we’ll bever read.
They tell me, prize choice when a lad,
explain, thought swot by working, class,
the extract read when led the form,
those faces blank, my zeal alight.
I learnt the worth, poetic words,
found ‘Michael’, as first poem spoke
to sixteen mind, as I look back,
a strange hook, adolescent teen.
No poem’s made by shipping list –
but Porlock man and Kubla Khan
held sway, deep caverns in my mind –
childhood, scout camp, Cambridge exam.
Those rhythms, I find poetry,
like turning leaves, my library,
thin pages, gold leaf edges, Donne,
great Grandma’s flyleaf signature.
The presentation befits text,
as jewel resting in its nest,
a mohs scale of fragility,
through typeset, printed, press released,
forgotten libraries of wealth.
For everyman and woman guests,
novel celebrities in set,
though Alexandria was razed,
the writer’s cemetery purged,
this phoenix risen from the ash.
They’re cover when I’ve lost the plot,
my Shakespeare’s not love’s labour’s lost;
had I not been ordained, young man,
no better road than Charing Cross.
To sort the books at eighty four
a paradise from roof to floor;
some spineless, past their sell-by date –
too tough to dump roughed written page.
Slide penguins, age changed livery,
for there it was, long journey looms,
the price of books extortionate,
thought the key, Allen, cheaper reads.
And so it saw the Penguin born,
by Exeter, St David’s track –
my hometown, where these pupils trained –
as steamer rolled in, clackety.
Clack, hissed to halt, like Adlestrop,
but barren, needing tanner book,
though ticket clerk without a clue
of revolution, platform two.
Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church due to Parkinson’s Disease, has had pieces published by on-line poetry sites, printed journals and anthologies, including Poetry Potion.
His blog is at https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/