• Adrian Slonaker

Discovery in the Stacks


Adrian Slonaker works as a copywriter and copy editor in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA. He holds a Master of Arts degree in interdisciplinary humanities from California State University - Dominguez Hills. Adrian's poetry has appeared in Amaryllis, The Mackinac, Eunoia Review, Aberration Labyrinth, Nixes Mate Review and others.

Of the poems we present here Adrian says: "These five free-verse poems are intended to leave the reader curious; they explore a sense of place and time and celebrate the activity of observation and a hunger to understand what our fellow humans are doing and saying."

Discovery in the Stacks

A tawny art textbook last loaned forty-five years earlier sat like a hardcover wallflower in the vastness of the university library. A tired grunt of graphite trailing into nothingness, the borrower's scribbled signature elicited voiceless questions: Who possessed that signature? Had it outlived him- or her? What had become of the cryptic signer during decades of war, disease, and dance crazes? Multiple marriages, companions, kids, parakeets? Had the erstwhile student aged with reflective resignation or battled biology with dime-store miracle creams or costly lifts? Not wanting some future reader to harbor the same wonderings about me, I shut the cover as I'd close a clam shell, shoved the volume back on its shelf, and slipped out to the snack bar.

A Most Becoming Birthstone

October's boons include fall's foliar fashion show, the most creative costume procession since Purim, and opals, diffracting light into dazzling hiccups of color, the beautiful miscegenation of mauve and vermilion, of lemon and melon, hues chasing each other in a glorious game of tag or dancing like ballet dilettantes through drifting clouds of dry ice, a pearly mosaic pregnant with flash and flourish more psychedelic than the display case at any head shop, a chimerical multichromatic carnival to be envied by Seurat and his dots.

Filthy Black Hat

One extra-large Jaxon newsboy, black and broken into use to conceal a tonsure gaining traction, because vanity is the B-side of virility, rough with more ridges than your favorite Ruffles, each one dun from dust and dirt from Lancaster, London, Moncton and Matanzas. It was sported when I scored that puffy paycheck, eluding homelessness for another few months, donned when the doctor delivered the data that finished off a fortnight of stealth trembling, prominent in sunlight when Nasir notified me Pall-Malls had just purloined his youngest brother. I can ball it up in my pale pudgy palm or let my fingertips slowly fondle it before replacing it on my scalp, which I ought to do because I'm even balder now.

Eavesdropping in a Bed and Breakfast

The B-movie spookiness of a drab Edwardian inn punctuates jade swathes of New Brunswick forest, the chiaroscuro of lamplight defeated by deepening evening. Heavy windows sleepily half-open permit May's rains to stream and splash against sills serving as graveyards for too many flies. Flopped on a four-poster, a turtle-faced professor laps up lazy privacy with gooey mouthfuls of mac and cheese as he hearkens to haphazard rhythms, imagining his wolfish eyes, her saucy beauty, his punishing shoulders, her gamine gams. Beyond the scandalously scarce sliver of wall, lascivious Svengalis unknowingly mesmerize to an inner madness.

Thank You, St. Jerome*

Source language is blue, like the stripes of the Argentine-or Uruguayan-flag; target language is white, like the Cliffs of Dover. The computed-assisted tool toggles between the tongue of Torquemada and the language of Lizzie Borden, frantic fingers capturing keys to transform almohada, brought from the Arabic by marauding Moors meandering into Iberia, into pillow, as Anglo-Saxon as beer and brawling, or into cushion, a nod to the noble Normans splashing against the shores of Sussex. Let the translator toss words, just as a sous-chef tosses a salad, for the Tower of Babel remains broken, and deadlines are unforgiving.

*St. Jerome is the patron saint of translators, librarians, and encyclopedists.

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