The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Letter to a Librarian

Posted on: February 21, 2007

All the fuss about the precious children reading about scrotums–such eeeevil, dirty, dangerous things–reminded me of a catchy Layton poem.


Mr. P.–I have heard it rumoured
That you, humanist, librarian with a license,
In the shady privacy of your glassed room
Tore up my book of poems.

Sir, a word in your ear. Others
Have tried that game: burned Mann
And my immortal kinsman Heine.
Idiots! What act could be vainer?

For this act of yours, the ligatures
Pest-corroded, your eyes shall fall
From their sockets; drop on your lacquered desk
With the dull weight of pinballs.

And brighter than the sapless vine
Your hands shall flare;
To the murkiest kimbos of the library
Flashing my name like a neon sign.

And the candid great
Of whom not one was ever an Australian
Cry dustily from their shelves,
“Imposter! False custodian!”

Till a stunned derelict
You fall down blind, ear-beleaguered,
While Rabelais pipes you to a wished-for death
On a kazoo quaint and silvered.

Irving Layton

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