Andy Jackson

November 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Empty Library

“Pensioners in Swansea are reportedly buying books from charity shops for just a few pence each and taking them home for fuel. With temperatures plummeting and energy costs on the rise, thick books such as encyclopaedias are said to be particularly sought after”. The Guardian, Wednesday 6 January 2010

The pensioners are mobilising once again,
staking out Barnardos, waiting for the lull,
striking surgically to grab the thickest books,
piling stolen Asda trolleys high with fiction.
Fuel allowance paid, but still you cannot beat
a Grisham, Binchy or Clavell for winter heat.

I recall those other bonfires in the spring
where Brecht and Wells and Hemingway
and London were consumed, saw the updraft,
ropes of ash like ink-stained fingers of God.
In time, we turned our faces from the pyres,
though some remained to poke the dying fires.

Today I stand on Bebelplatz and squint
into the loaded shadows underneath the glass,
seeing not the necessary order of the shelves,
but the weight of stories no-one’s ever read.
Some space is for the ne plus ultra of our peers,
but some we must reserve for even bad ideas.

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