(Written while watching waves break on Galveston Island, October 10, 2020)
In bygone days befuddled men
Would run a sort of shop,
In which they sold old tattered books
For a few bucks a pop;
They’d skulk behind their counters,
Midst tottering towers of print,
And read, grunt, and begrudge,
Books I bought and books I didn’t.
Beside the door they’d set a bin,
Of books to take for free:
Old and odd and broken books
To befuddle men like me.
And thus, my mind was lumbered
With dry and dusty prose;
But in those junkyards sometimes sprang
A tough and thorny rose.
So, I became a rose hunter,
In the literary wastes,
And learned to love the thorny words
Of scribes, dead, doomed, disgraced.
They say a man can best be known
By the company he keeps,
So doomed and disgraced is the man,
Who into dead scribbling peeps;
He becomes another specter,
In the fashionable eye,
Of men who scorn to read a page
On which the ink is dry.
The fruit of my wayward reading,
In the wrack of the discard bin,
Is dry and acid and widely supposed
To taint like the apple of sin;
But those who have a taste for such,
And are thereby stamped as queer,
Can find what they crave in the discard bin
That we call the Orthosphere.