paperback rider 1


Before the new days, ancient currawongs
hammering bells awoke me.
The new birds want my moto perpetuo,
my clockwork drive to nonexistence,
to eternal giving up before beginning.


I was seated at a table in bibliographic
co-ordinates, aligning ping-pong balls
in rows, to start and finish with the first.

Around me, light was trickling
onto cushions of synthetic silence,
while tired reading eyes
bounced off trellised inkwork,
seeking hazy Sunday windows
that were far too far away.

Today you’ll be reshelving the returns.

It was Millie and a train of shopping carts
piled high with books.

I didn’t know I worked here.

Let’s verify your aptitude.
The Dewey Classes, what can you tell me?

They spark upon the grass,
all mantissa, no exponent,
glimmers without meaning.

Can you open cupboard doors?

Only from the inside.
If I do, others close, windows rise and fall,
and the nocturnal sea of furniture
bumps against the walls.

How many mistakes have you made
with the number two?

More than you know, and less
than you don’t.

Zero out of three, close enough.


So I walked the avenues and aisles,
scattering books like careless seeds.

Children’s stories—
for puffed up clouds and optimistic dragons,

Secretive Simplicity (all blank pages)—
wrapping for a fish shop,

I Fell in Love with a Solarian—
for a miscellaneous chemist,

How to Write How to Write Books—
for a reclusive mathematician.

I turned a random page:

“Your story must be plausible,
mystery with a dash of conflict,
yet to be resolved.”

At that very moment,
a flying solar creature,
all flaming petals and plasma light,
descended from above.

I love what you’ve done with your hair.

I’m made of ionized particles.
I do not have hair.

to continue

Libraries are ideal places to pretend not to be wasting time.

artwork the old library (part above)

34 thoughts on “paperback rider 1

  1. Pingback: paperback rider 1 — inconstant light | Fantasy Gift Sources: Book Reviews, Article Resources, News

    • Thank you, Margaret. I used to work in plasma physics (the study of ionized gases), such as you find in the outer layers of the sun, in solar flares, etc. I’ve also worked with laboratory plasmas, and seen some amazing things. So… I have to admit, for me, there isn’t so much invention.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I learned what moto perpetuo is – the ping bong balls, giving up before beginning, reshelving the returns. Everything’s looping around it seems. More than you know and less than you don’t. Whew. I love the visual of flaming petals and plasma light. I saw a bird on PBS that looked like that. What a fertile mind you have!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Very true, BG. It seems that way sometimes for me too, loops within loops, but not particularly happy ones.

      I probably mentioned that I have a fondness for a bit of Latin, because it’s so similar to Portuguese.

      Thank you, BG. It just pops out of my head onto the keyboard, bits and pieces of memories; I’ve definitely been in a lot of libraries. PS I would like to see that bird.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Said, I’ll let her know. When I first started writing, Solarians featured pretty heavily, although mostly I didn’t send to publishers. I’ve always been fascinated with the outer layers of the sun, probably something to do with working in plasma physics. 🤓

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “and the nocturnal sea of furniture
    bumps against the walls.”
    I can imagine a song with every verse ending with those lines. Brilliant stuff, (By the way, you can’t really get to Dublin from anywhere, you have to be born there)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. many things assailed my thoughts as I read this, all good and beautiful things. like paperback writer , the Beatles song, I may be dyslexic when I am excited, as paperback means books and I have a love affair with them, I digress, what I meant to say was, you have just created my fantasy world here. a room with books, a library of dreams. Can I book a space on the shelf between then and now? wonderful, wonderful Steve!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Gina. Not a digression for me; I purchased a turntable a few weeks ago and I’ve been journeying back in time. For me, paperbacks as well are time travel, because my father managed a publishing company and I occasionally worked in the warehouse filled with them. There is plenty of space in the infinite library. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I did a Government Training Scheme in my local library when a teenager. I returned thirty years later to launch my two poetry collections there. I didn’t know I worked here could sum up most of my conventional employment life including the poems. Keep on keeping on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perhaps not a bad thing, Paul, working at the library in that way. The local library was special when I was young, and with my own kids. I haven’t been for years, but the last time was kind of curious. I was searching for a book referencing a particular historical event in the field of welding. I checked all the wonderful databases, and found that it was only available at an obscure local library in Sydney’s West. I went there, and sure enough, there it was. At major libraries short of space they were getting rid of books that no-one read. I think that explains it, a shame in a way.
      PS I’m happy to wake up breathing, anything else is a bonus.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Whenever I read your poems I am sort of thankful in some respect, that reality isn’t as you fictionalize it, because I’d be more confused than I already am with this reality. I wonder if mistaking hair for ionized particles would be a microaggression in this reality?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am confused with reality as well, Daniel, which probably explains why I don’t see much difference between what I write and my experiences. These plasma creatures (who also appear in my stories) probably come from all my time spent in laboratories with plasmas confined in magnetic fields. I imagine it would be pretty offensive to confuse the two: hair with luminous plasma petals, but who knows? I don’t have a consistent fantasy universe in my head. Actually, come to think of it, I don’t have a consistent real universe in my head. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I didn’t know I worked here… oh gosh that made me laugh.
    And opening cupboard doors, which reminded me of the time my sister in law and I accidentally locked ourselves in her pantry once LOL. She was showing me around her gorgeous, heritage apartment… look how big the pantry is, we can both fit in here, just don’t close the…Wish we could have opened that from the inside. Thank God her mother was there at the time. Thanks for the hilarious memory.
    You make me guffaw, with poignantly stabbed breaths.

    Liked by 1 person

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