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Book Challenge, Page 1: Book Sense

Inscribed on stone, parchment, silk

Susan Melot


Did the first storytellers by fire and moonlight
Mimic grunts, use gestures, love to recite?
With only rudiments of language they would transmit
Sounds of the hunt, and animals, despite.
With mute passion, painted animals on cave dwellings
and made statues as their proud birthright.
Troubadours of old, traveling a world new and strange,
Would tell epics of sword-bearing knights.
Gold-tinged leaves remain: message in mediums.
The rest is silence: shades of finite.
Now before a fire or at a bedside one might read
about Chelm's silly schlemiels, Chelmites.
Oh for the catharsis of humor especially
reading of people quite erudite.
As Singer's Gimpel says: whatever doesn't happen
in an unreal world is dreamed at night.

Did the rabbi advise: bring your animals to bed?
Release by dawn — feel spacious delight!


Comic stories highlight real troubles: we laugh, we cry,
stumbling upon a well of insight.
Do you accept human suffering's salvation;
or plead with God about a sad plight?
First speak then write, next print-set, display in time & space:
Reveal release an infinite light.
Is all the world a stage; are we all mere characters
burning our time out in a spotlight?
Ideas like silver fish splash down wild waterfalls —
Some float on Aladdin's magic flight.
Words empowered, dressed in formal ablack enticed the French
with Common Sense, the fuse ignited.
A multiplicity of genres within genres:
instant beauty by the gigabyte.
Notes & staffs printed for posterity: onyx gems
once sung or played without black & white.
For her beloved Sue would measure out Keat's famed words
Bright, with smoky pen's trail: skywrite.

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Book Sense

Amy L. Greenspan

I fear the fate of children who will never understand
the tactile joy of printed page in hand.

She turns to verse her mother loved, inhales a tender trace
of rose-lotioned fingertips. She trembles, page in hand.

I mountainclimb in massive tomes that grace my coffee table.
Today I conquered Everest, glossy page in hand.

Absorb the sound of innocence: spellbound toddler laughing,
clapping in surprised delight, pop-up book in hand.

The child has left and left behind a shelf of sticky treasure:
volumes streaked with bedtime treats consumed, page in hand.

Lovers leave, friendships end, pets can't live forever.
Still, I will not die alone. I'll die with page in hand.

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Of Books

Ben Johnson

I buy them merely for the smells of books
and days disappear in the spells of books

In the sun with a hat and a hardback
I draw refreshment from my wells of books

As a teen my brain was aflame with them
I walked about deaf from yells of books.

For bullies whose brains get tangled with words
I pray there is reserved a hell of books.

At night I was lulled by the wave of words
hissing in my ear from the shells of books.

The notes scribbled by previous readers
genetically alters the cells of books

Faced by the mountain of the works of men
Solomon wished he'd not heard tell of books

The media insists our modern age
will create the final farewell of books

A trail of bent spines and scraps of paper
marks my progress through the pell-mell of books.

Exhilarated I rode the white whale
of Ahab through the turbulent swells of books

Oh Ben your sadly sagging shelves reveal
you can't resist the hard sell of books.

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A Part of Me

Bernard Gieske

Searching for a book to read is but a way to find a part of me
Not always do I know which part but still it must be part of me

I prefer a book that speaks to me of nature, birds, some mystery
Some things I will never do. Blame my age or another part of me

My imagination is a film maker, my eyes are telescopes
My inner ears can multiply the sounds — the stage a part of me

When the story is dull or even most exciting — I take a pause
Not impatient am I to read on — after all it's a part of me

I fail to understand the meaning of all the books lining my walls
What is it that I want in reading a book that is a part of me?

Now at last there is only one lingering question for me to ask
What other book can I find that is not already a part of me?

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The Evolution of Books

Shelley M. Peters

Stories used to be transmitted orally from clan to clan
before books relayed stories without speaking man to man.

Monks used to illuminate texts by hand.
Their codexes were beautiful and very grand.

Now printing presses print books by the thousand
and there's the custom world of print on demand.

The Diamond Sutra was made with woodblocks in the Dynasty of Han.
Now digital books like Kindles can be turned off and on.

The world of books is changing all across the land.
Soon we may no longer have rural library vans.

Books have been valued since the early days of man.
Storing them in "clouds" may be the next plan.

People often ask, "What books would you take to a desert island?"
There are too many to choose from, don't you understand?

Translations of books across cultures span.
Shelley travels the world as one of the bibliophile clan.

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A Man of Books

Taylor Graham

for Elihu Burritt, the Learned Blacksmith

Biblical battles, Scott's historical romances: what riches
for a word-hungry boy — the parish library with its 200 books.

Coal-smudge in the margins, Thomson's Seasons balanced
on the forge chimney, a smith's apprentice lives on books.

Who trusts a common laborer with the library key? A rare
collection of ancient tongues, Worcester's museum of books.

A farmer sets aside one of his pigs; it brings, at market,
enough for 20 volumes. All winter he'll be warmed by books.

You walked the length of Britain, writing of kings and nailer-
boys, skylarks and donkeys, and put it all into your books.

Lectures and Speeches, A Walk from London to Land's End —
could you ever make a decent living by writing books?

When you left the first home you ever called your own,
your neighbors' parting gift — of course — was a set of books.

Knight's Illustrated Shakespeare and your much-traveled
Hebrew Psalter — you're a man of few but precious books.

What legacy can an aging, childless man leave behind?
There in the Harborne library, a shelf of your own books.

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