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Page 199

Blankness should be a beginning, not an end.
We should die (or end our games)
with every page filled, scribbles
in every margin. I fill myself up
with significance or stare, blankly,
as a sign-if-I-can't. "The unevaluated life
is not worth living." Who said that? ( I mean
before I did -- I saw it on a tea bag tag. Was it Plato?)

There's also something memorable (in the Talmud?)
about a book and its cover. Christ, am I
littered with significance. I'm a homeless shelter
for lost, tattered significances. Oh, that's right,
"You can't tell a book by its cover" -- who
said that? Yes, Talmud. (But who would want to
tell a book anything? I suppose if critics tell poets,
books of criticism tell books of poetry. Critics,
have you forgotten what every child knows: It's not nice
to tell.) (Horrible thought – could it be "You can't JUDGE
a book by it's cover"? If so, don't tell me.)

But though you can't tell a book by its cover,
you shall know the tree by the fruits thereof (said Christ?
Bright carpenter's son, saying "thereof"). "By their fruits
are they known" -- describing San Francisco and Greenwich Village?
A cover isn't fruit, but an afterthought. Well,
I'm glad I can't be told by my cover, since I'm
old and fat (Shhh! I'm a spirit under cover!
The name is Bond, 20-pound Bond), but I'm dieting,
exercising and youthanizing; hoping to see you then (me thin --
buff and trim, so you can know me
by my cover. Anyway, I'm well-written-on.
Like that of some computers, my memory is paged,
and what I am is mostly a memory now, which is why
you see me (or seem me) here, now, on a
RAM page.

(If I were a Torah scroll, I'd be goat skin, not ram.
One long page full of sentences beginning "And..." --
"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying..." [pardon
my English], all ands -- the Torah is an all-ands
operation. How odd, a goat
without buts.)

Note: Spirit under cover (in pages of poems under a cover) suggests spy, perhaps James Bond, but here, 20-pound bond, the paper I print on that now bonds me to you.

Odd that "youthanizing" (presumably, making young) echos "euthanizing" (mercy killing, usually of the aged – who, if reborn as babies, are also, thus,youthanized).

In the last stanza I refer to all those Biblical sentences that begin with "and". "All ands" puns "all-hands" – on a ship or in some businesses, some big action that requires everyone to help out. And, for a book, the Torah is well-manned. When it's read in the synagogue, there are people to carry it, people to scroll it, a person to point to the passage to be read, people to read it and recite blessings – it's like one of those light bulb jokes: How many Jews does it take to read a Torah?

This is another poem that will suggest to many readers that I've capsized my book, am treading water, buoyed up by gassy puns. But stay tuned. (I love the suspense, and will perhaps be hanged for it.)

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