Second Hand Book Store
If e-books had a conscience,
it would look like this:
musty rows of stuffed shelves,
light through webbed window
straining to make out an author’s name,
aged editions of the classics,
signed copies behind a glass case,
obscure dead poets, their gravesites
squeezed between film history
and “The Decameron” in Italian,
coffee table art books cover to cover
with rank travel guides to a younger earth,
shadows crawling up horror tomes,
moth buzzing about an early history of flight,
estate sale bargains stacked on the floor,
and, up front, the crusty old owner
behind a dilapidated desk
with, on one side, an adding machine
and, on the other,
a prehistoric copy of “Books In Print.”
But e-books have no conscience.
And either I wrote down the wrong address
or that store’s no longer here.
I showed him my passport.
He looked at it intently,
as if peering through
a magnifying glass,
looking for clues
to a robbery, a murder.
The passport picture did me no favors.
The contortions of my face,
all stress, all disappointments,
were as obvious
as a lounge lizard’s lines.
Yes, the stamps from many lands
told the story of my travels.
But I would always be this man
in that snapshot.
My hair would be unkempt,
my cheeks prone to fleshiness.
I’d be weak-eyed,
and on the verge
of losing it.
Eventually, he let me through.
But not until
he had no doubt
what his country was getting into.
About the Poet
John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in Paterson Literary Review, Southern California Review and Natural Bridge with work upcoming in New Plains Review, Leading Edge and Louisiana Literature.