We did not write in books
when young for they were
not ours to write in.

Even now I pause
at every vandalism
I am about to commit.

The shadow of my own self
at my invisible shoulder
sucking the air of disdain
(and sad regret)
over long forgotten teeth.

I have left a thousand books
behind beside the wreckage
of every marriage I caused to burn
but would sooner set alight
my own bound wrists
than approach any pile or shelf
with a petrol can.

And part of this is political,
historical, a reverence
in my nature, along with
the Korean weapons of the raised
eyebrow and pursed lip.

But for all of that
some is the poverty
that revered the public library,
but was also
enforced by it.

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