If you're going to judge a book by a cover, start with the spine. Do you catch the title with your eye? Is the font a soft bunt that floats right to you, or did you have to hoof it all the way to the warning track?
If the book was a person and you'd started with the spine, the back cover is the next logical place to linger over. Is it covered with quotes from strangers? Does the bio mention the number of cats in the author's house or is it scarred with the adjective “unique” at a particularly unappealing vertebra?
A book is not a person so don't feel creepy about getting inside it before you even see the front cover. (See paragraph sixteen)
If you read this book
sequentially, bad things may happen to you , but only as bad
as the things that would have happened to you anyway.
If, however, you do not read this book sequentially you may
find that you are suddenly aboard a sunken pirate ship,
staring into the deep abyss, and wishing you had chosen
not to chase the manatee in your submarine after all. Do not
panic. If you end up in the wrong adventure just go back
three spaces and draw another card.
It doesn't take a manatee to make you happy. You hope. There's no manatee in this story. You can't find the pirate ship. Flip to the front with its robin egg blue color, with its robin shit clouds, and the title on what is maybe supposed to be a billboard or a restaurant marquee but what reminds you of the part of the cash register that displays the amount of money you owe, which is more than you imagined it would be. But you didn't choose this book, this book chose you. The way this book store chose you. How the woman behind the counter didn't ask if she could help you, she said “Welcome. I haven't seen you in here before. I see you checking out the poetry section. I don't know a lot about poetry, could you recommend something to me?” And when you explained that you were not from the area, and that's why he hadn't seen you, she did not ask where you were from, she asked what your favorite independent bookstore was. Leaving this store without a new book would be a crime against literature and kindness. And, lo did your eyes not fall like a clunky simile but rather floated in the direction of Leigh Stein's book.
Up in the corner of the book, the only quote for Dispatch From The Future: “I love these poems.” No italics. Nothing in bold or caps. The only underlining is beneath the title of the quote giver's book. How unostentatious. How honest it seems. How humbly it rests on the cover, not trying to outadjective the work inside.
I don't like to talk to philosophy majors.
They have found the truth and the truth is
that there isn't one, so on Saturdays they
wear overalls and stare at their reflections
and try to guess whose childhood was worse,
but in the end they realize they all share
the same dream of having a reason
to join the Witness Protection Program,
which disappoints at least one person, who
thought his dream was so uniquely his.
(See paragraph two)
You and I have maybe the same past and almost definitely the same future. We will be sad at some point and the way we try and consume our depression will probably destroy us further.
If a robot is sad
a robot will make cookies shaped like velociraptors
and leave work early just to mail some to his
mom. If a robot is really sad he will draw hearts
and arrows and blood on every smooth surface.
If a robot is totally devastated he will go on an online dating
site and under “Who I'm looking for” write, “Someone
to teach me how to love.” Then the robot will stare
at this, wonder if it makes him seem like he just wants
sex, and write, “Someone to hurt me. I am a robot.”
Maybe this book isn't from the future but is, in fact, something you wrote in the past. You thought you loved it because it spoke only to you but every one of your friends who reads the book says it reminds them of the way you write and they love it. You hope this is a reflection of their love for you. The way you were. Not the way you will be. You think you called it Dispatch From The Future because Dispatch From The Past was too slant rimey. You think Leigh Stein is an obvious pen name for you.
Really, though you love this book. You love it even though it mentions living in New York. You love it because it mentions New York not the way a TV channel slathers its logo on the screen during the midst of your favorite program but the way a flight attendant mentions flight. It is not a surprise to you the way BROOKLYN. I LOVE BROOKLYN BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE I'M FROM. I MOVED TO BROOKLYN WITH MY FRIEND WHO THEN DIED IN BROOKLYN AND I'M GOING TO MENTION BROOKLYN AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE BECAUSE IT ALLOWS ME TO USE STREET NAMES AND LANDMARKS THAT MANY PEOPLE KNOW BECAUSE SO MANY PEOPLE WRITE ABOUT NEW YORK CITY, AND LANDMARKS ARE FOREVER EVEN THOUGH BROOKLYN IS CHANGING AND NOT JUST BECAUSE MY FRIEND IS DEAD BUT BECAUSE BROOKLYN IS LOVE AND I AM LOVE AND I AM BROOKLYN. BECAUSE I AM SLOWLY DYING ON THE EDGES THOUGH MY BROOKLYN HEART BEATS STRONG. Leigh Stein does not ever do this when talking about the city she and 8.4 million other people call Home Until The Next Rent Increase.
when I say I want to take off all my clothes
I don't mean what if we had sex. I mean listen
to the sublime: sun on my shoulders, God in my ear.
Dispatch from the future:
life is only too short if you are having a good time.
You leave the bookstore because there aren't any free chairs and there is someone new for the woman behind the counter. Someone who can teach her about religious texts. You only read The Old Testament for the cartoons. (see paragraph ten) Then you were in a restaurant that wasn't done being built yet. It was you and the builders and Leigh Stein's book. And maybe life wasn't too short but the day was, certainly. The book, though, was just the right size.
What Is This All About?
This page is where the content from previous poetry blogs have been condensed. It's not on the menu, since most of these projects are over, or on hiatus, but the posts are still here to peruse.