Discovery in the Stacks

December 6, 2017



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,
and dance crazes?
Multiple marriages,
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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