I’m running out of pages. This book’s full,
so yesterday I took some paper scraps
I’d saved and made myself another book.
It isn’t fancy, only five by eight,
and certainly it isn’t perfect, but
the paper’s thick enough that I can paint
with watercolors, draw with pen and ink,
or sketch in pencil. I can even write
if I’ve a mind to write instead of draw.
It’s just a book, a journal, empty, plain,
and nothing special. Just a simple book,
an empty book but one I made myself.
The leather cover’s green but non-descript.
There isn’t any tooling. It is blank
and empty like the pages. Waiting. And
in time I’ll also fill those pages up.
Eventually. Eventually I will.
Eventually I’ll make another book.
A lump is no big deal. A lump of coal
is not enough to heat a single room
much less an house. It’s insignificant
unless it’s in a stocking Christmas Eve.
And what about a lumpy gravy? It
will taste as good as one without the lumps.
A lump is really just a minor thing.
Unless you’re sleeping on a lumpy bed
a lump is really not that big a deal.
Until you find a lump. And then it is.
It doesn’t matter where it is. It’s there.
It shouldn’t be. How long has it been there
before you noticed it? A day? A year?
And is it just a lump or something else?
And has it grown since you first noticed it?
It’s just a lump you tell yourself. It’s just
a lump. It’s insignificant. A lump.
It’s no big deal. It’s just a lump.
It’s just a lump. It’s just a lump. It’s just . . . .
Of course I could have started it with “Hwaet.”
It’s what’s expected, and the word is short.
And Hwaet is full of gravitas. So what.
I started it with “So.” It could be worse.
I could have said, “Hey you!” or “Listen up!”
or “Dick-wads gather round.” But I chose “So”
because it segues nicely, don’t you think,
into the story. So . . . . Just so you know,
the ending’s just about what you’d expect.
It’s the beginning that is really weird
with monsters killing, eating everyone.
The ending isn’t any better, just
another bunch of people being killed.
There are not even any love affairs
to read about. There’s just a lot of blood
and body parts that fill the pages up.
It’s drivel. Oh, another monster dies.
Who cares. Oh Beowulf is dead. At last
the book is over. If he had been killed
by Grendel at the start, it would have made
the book a better book. A shorter book.
While waiting for the careless time to pass
it’s easy to forget that time has passed;
that time is glacial and relentless; time
that wears away the world. Relentless, fixed,
it’s steady, steady, steady till it’s not;
and minutes stretch into infinity
and nothing happens. Nothing hangs around
repeatedly repeating nothingness,
a carousel of emptiness, a time
of waiting never ending. Waiting. Still.
Tomorrow and the future never comes.
The past and future both are dead.
There’s only now, the ever present now,
the silent, empty, prison that is now.
There’s only the infinity of now.
It’s time to mow the lawn again. I guess.
I mowed it just a couple weeks ago.
Or has it been a month since it was mowed?
I can’t remember just exactly when
it was, but one thing’s certain. It is time
to mow the lawn again. Or maybe not.
There’s California poppies in the lawn
and they’re protected. I could go to jail
if someone were to catch me mowing them.
And is it worth it? Should I take the chance?
If I’m in jail the lawn will not be mowed
so why not leave it just the way it is?
Besides, it’s ecological. It is.
The way it is it is a carbon sink.
I’m helping save the world from climate change.
I should be thanked and emulated, praised.
The land’s returning to its native roots.
I’m bringing back diversity to what
was just monotonous sterility.
There’s life, a living planet just outside
that would be lost if I would mow the lawn.
And so I won’t. Besides, I’m out of gas.
The Eric Gill edition isn’t cheap.
It’s nicely bound and all the words are there
but even after looking at it I can’t tell
you anything about the text at all.
Is it in modern English? I don’t know.
It could be in Swahili or in French.
I didn’t pay attention to the text.
Who cares about the text? I’ve read it all
before a dozen, hundred, thousand times.
I was ensorcelled by the vines
that border every page. The blunt-leaved vines,
the repetitious pattern of the vines
that varies, changes, differs page to page;
the black-line vines that Eric Gill engraved.
They all are variations on a theme
of capture and support. The people there
are living, working, loving in the vines.
Elongated, they are stretched out of shape,
almost a parody of people. Still
they laugh and plot, are sinister and kind;
but always laughing, they are caught up in the vines,
and so am I. I can’t escape the vines.