Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Things Found in Books

—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA
—Poem by Michael Ceraolo, Willoughby Hills, OH



We were attending
one of the local winterfests
when we stopped into an antique store
for a brief respite from the cold

It was a store I had seen advertised
in the programs of the plays
we went to in the theater
that was on one corner of the square

The books were in the basement,
I found a book I had been looking for,
Sports in Cleveland:
An Illustrated History

by John J. Grabowski,
1992 by Case Western Reserve University,
a price sticker,
                       dated 9/17/92,
for $14.95 still on the back cover
                                                 (the book
was published by Indiana University Press;
why didn't Case or another local university
publish the book?)

It was signed by the author,
dated April 6, 1993,
                with best wishes,
to a Tony Palermo
I wonder if Mr. Palermo is still alive,
                                                           if so,
what circumstances would have caused him
to have disposed of the book?


I don't remember what the book was,
even if I bought the book,
I definitely took the book off the shelf
at a used bookstore
                              and leafed through it,
in doing so I found a piece of paper tucked inside:
a RETURN slip,
time-stamped 12:24 PM,
for a pair of Nautica pants
that had cost $20.89
(tax included)
Hecht's in Washington, D.C.
(were the department store people
any relation to the poet of the same name?)

The receipt was signed by Jo Ann Baker
                                                           (which name
I have a vague recollection
of having seen written on the inside
of the unknown book)
I wonder about the circumstances
that led to her returning the pants:
change of heart?
                          they didn't fit?
a gift she didn't like?
I wonder about her journey,
I wonder about the book's journey,
I wonder about the receipt's journey as well


A book came in the mail,
a Christmas present from my daughter and son-in-law
who had moved to Seattle in June:
Skid Road
An Informal Portrait of Seattle

by Murray Morgan,
                             published by
the University of Washington Press

I don't know how many owners
the book has had in its history,
one previous owner wrote her name on it,
her name was,
                       appropriately enough
for the purposes of this poem,
Kathy Muse

I wonder if Ms. Muse
used the book as a textbook,
if she was just an enthusiastic lay reader
marking her books as one marks one's territory,
there are phrases and sentences underlined,
passages marked with brackets
passages set off with parentheses,
names enclosed in circles and rectangles,
exclamation points,
                              question marks
(sometimes the two together),
a wide variety of editorial comments,


Memories of a Lifetime Volume 1

edited by George Cormack,
autographed by him,
                                with Go Cleveland!
                                and Best Wishes,
the inscription To Bob,
the hope that he enjoy the memories

I hope that Bob did so enjoy,
the things that didn't stir any memories,
I also hope that he kept the book
for the rest of his life


Conrad's Heart of Darkness & The Secret Sharer
copyright 1910 by Harper & Brothers
Signet Classic CD 4
Introduction copyright 1950
by Albert J. Goerard
Nineteenth Printing
marked by a Janet Falko,
              "67"  [1967]
she was anything but secret in sharing
the name of the object of her affections
Ron and Ronnie are written on the back cover
sixteen different times,
                                  in various sizes,
in a few different directions,
in block letters with no spaces between,
some traced many more times than that
Twice the name is written
with conventional printing and spacing
and traced multiple times,
one of the two being underlined
                                               And finally,
was written on the outside of the pages
while the book was held closed
I had never before
seen the name Janet shortened (?) to Janie,
in any case I have always pronounced Jay-nee,
her having had the book in class
wasn't a total loss


Today's LittleNip:

Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.

― Mark Twain



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