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A Library Of Skulls Analysis

Author: poem of Thomas Lux Type: poem Views: 11

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Shelves and stacks and shelves of skulls, a Dewey

Decimal number inked on each unfurrowed forehead.

Here's a skull

who, before he lost his fleshy parts

and lower bones, once

walked beside a river (we're in the poetry section

now) his head full of love

and loneliness; and this smaller skull,

in the sociology stacks, smiling (they're all

smiling)—it's been empty

a hundred years. That slot

across the temple? An ax blow

that fractured

her here. Look at this one from the children's shelves,

a baby, his fontanel

a screaming mouth and this time no teeth, no smile.

Here's a few (history)—a murderer,

and this one—see how close their eye sockets!—a thief,

and here's a rack of torturers' skulls

beneath which a longer row of the tortured,

and look: generals' row,

their epaulets

on the shelves to each side of them.

Shelves and shelves, stacks stacked on top of stacks,

floor above floor,

this towering high-rise library

of skulls, not another bone in the place

and just now the squeak of a wheel

on a cart piled high with skulls

on their way back to shelves

while in the next aisle

a cart filling with those about to be loaned

to the tall, broken-hearted man waiting

at the desk, his library card

face down before him.


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