paperback rider 3: the earnest librarian


Millie, the librarian, has decided that the library’s newest eternal employee will probably have to do some writing, apart from cleaning the restrooms. Part 1 is here.

Before we ravel the tangles of your
thoughtlessness, I’ll be giving you
the benefit of my interleaved experience.
I may speak in bold occasionally.

about yours truly
I’ve adopted arrogance,
its only limit, epsilon.
I began instructing in my childhood.
My toys were most obedient,
the cat, the least.

the cafeteria
They make you leave, move on, move off.
They show you there’s no ground at sea.
It’s best to pack a lunch.

interlibrary loan requests
All must be ignored:
the stranger who requests the egg in white,
neither book nor egg nor white;
the others who would borrow you.

To each their own or someone else’s.

Dewey Decimals
The zero Dewey Decimal
may theorize on zombie androids,
and yet no class is fixed—
fiction moves to factors,
they become forgotten dreams.

Avoid the aisles of negative call numbers,
where once I wandered in my youth.
All you read is taken from your life,
a white out in a blizzard.
I cannot tell you what I’ve lost.

infernal logic and dreams inverted
Hell must burn or freeze
to the end of all things finite.
If not, in a moment of transition,
the weather would be tempered,
tropical, almost bearable.

Rubbish blows across my lawn.
I play the piano, there is no sound.
A vagrant with a bottle offers me a sip.

And please accept this wilted cabbage leaf
or part thereof, he says, it was given me
by an offshoot of humanity frozen in a glacier.

I’ve staged my life in Noh, in copacetic lies,
and now a single glow in the chandelier remains.
While it burns, I’ll never speak without a mask.


Wondering about his missing ping-pong balls,
preparing answers to imaginary questions,
hearing nothing but the whispers
of garment-hungry moths,
the employee nodded.

to continue

the egg in white, Noh

artwork obedience school (part above)

41 thoughts on “paperback rider 3: the earnest librarian

  1. reading this gave me giggles only because I saw myself as that pompous Millie! she is such a character, one of your best so far, I quite like her. coming back to this later, have to rush the books are getting impatient to be handled!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Gina. Honestly, I like her too. She knows who she is and doesn’t hide it, and at least she is offering advice. Books are very impatient with me as well, with good reason. 🙂


  2. Pingback: paperback rider 3: the earnest librarian — inconstant light | Fantasy Gift Sources: Book Reviews, Article Resources, News

  3. Your pictures are wonderful! ‘I may speak in bold occasionally’ is surreal as is much of your work. I love the humour of taking a packed lunch to the cafeteria. Also the offshoot of humanity frozen in a glacier is a masterly image. Thanks for this Steve.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure, Margaret. I interpret surrealism as “confusion.” At a break in a Buddhist event last year, someone showed me pictures of frogs on their phone. “Nice,” I said, and kept my thoughts to myself. Were the frogs special in some way? Did he show everyone pictures of frogs? Did he choose the pictures according to his audience, and he had deduced that I was a frog person? For me, surrealism is just life.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh, the poor protagonist… which additional job duties will Millie be heaping on him next?
    It seems that in every universe, cats are not particularly obedient.
    Next time I’m in the library, I’ll make sure to avoid the aisles of negative call numbers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Such an ethereal orientation day for the new employee; makes all employee on-boarding experiences I’ve ever had seem so dull! I’d nod too, if I were the employee. What else is there to do but agree to a promised fascinating ride at the library?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Annie. Have to admit I’ve been to some dull orientations, getting my contractor’s license with GMH ranks pretty highly in the boring list. But if I were going to advise the employee, I’d tell him to run, and not stop running until he was far away from the library.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoyed. I’ve noticed people fall into two classes as far as their instinctive reaction to instructions/requests (i.e. without thinking about it): either an automatic “yes” or an automatic “no.” I’m “yes” and that has caused me no end of trouble.


  6. I really love the artwork on this this one. The dark background and striking colors make a beautiful contrast. That first line, “Before we ravel the tangle of…” is the first unexpected thing. My brain so wants to unravel. I got turned on my head right from the start!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, BG. Glad you like the artwork, I’d like to do more that are similar but it is so hard to get my computer program to do what I want: it has a mind of its own.

      Curiosities have appeared with the evolution of English over centuries. You might ask what is the difference between ‘flammable” and “inflammable,” or “ravel” and “unravel” in this case.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Your words wonderful, as always. But oh, I want to wade through your illustration. So cool (not the slang term, actually watery-cool as I slog along in the heat and humidity of Florida). Thanks for a lovely morning of thought, Steve!

    Liked by 1 person

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