by Jake Reynolds

The following poem includes 44 chopped-up book titles of novels that have won the Man Booker Prize. This poem comes after Marlon James won the prize last week with his brutal and cacophonous novel A Brief History of Seven Killings.


It is quite something. I remember the days of children
dreaming of spending their inheritance on books

now waiting patiently, in that English way, for nothing
to happen, staring blindly at the ghosts that besiege

the moon late at night, push it, give marching orders
and last warnings. Those small assassins send troubles

to elected people, young and old, gathering them as books
often do, from bodies, sacred fleshy remains, sea-wood

chewed offshore. The history dividing them: no matter.
for every hunger pang, famished child, books.

food, we say. no, they answer. books, always books.
for members of the free world, books. for disgraces

& stains & fallen gods, books. for every white man,
books (only at 1st; they learn). for every beginning

brought to life & light, books. for every ending,
however brief the loss, however deep the grief & maps

in-between, books. for every Q asked w/ true intent, books.
for every writing workshop on senses, books

w/ their white-bright bones in sunlight.
for every couple in a hotel reminiscing on simpler times,

when they were 20 & self-possessed & passages
seemed so clear, how invincible they thought they were,

riding the crest of it, books. for the devils & angels
& luminaries in each gang, those shoulder-dwellers, Books.

for every fanatic books of arks w/ wolves & tigers
the best at killing

for the little things

gap yrs in amsterdam & paro valley

for naysayers & false prophets

for everyone who overlooked Books

for everyone who underestimated them & their fire

cutting them up strip by strip like carrion

for everyone who always loved & cherished them

o Books to line the walls w/

an artist w/ an aerosol can a delivery of defence

a circling vulture a venom a barricade

the big big world ending

in a big big book-burning

big ghosts in the big smoke

big Books we breathe good

Books good
Books good

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