The Library

Now the shelves are on tracks
And for days -- who knows? -- weeks,
Whole rows are entombed
Between other rows.

As you pass each row, a light sensor
The fluorescents shudder and blink,
And there it is:
The crypt of the intellect.

If you want a book from a row, you turn a massive handle
On one end;
The shelves press against each other,
Groaning like old bones,
And an opening appears:

The books stretch and exhale
Their breath of dust and erudition;
The authors, cold in their graves,
Just a little:
Their name,
Their work,
Is briefly lit,
Quickly glanced at,
Perhaps even thumbed
By the living.

Back outside,
You are still haunted:
Knowledge obscuring knowledge,
The weight of the world's work,
Alphabetized, digitized, catalogued,
Wisdom collapses in on itself;
A black hole of anti-thought
Formed from the gravity
Of our desire to know.

Darkness comes on
Like a silent movie locomotive
From behind our flat screens.
It passes.
We are gone.

If we vanish,
It will be because
We were too busy with our knowing
To truly learn.

--Mr. Gobley



Tonight as i lay in bed
i heard life going by

ghost train of memories
panes of light in parallax
in the mind's shuttered eye

lost love
the arc of a home run
in a softball game

fumbling for car keys
on a winter night

the Adirondacks
the diaper pail

and suddenly:
the heaviness

pinned to the earth
as the comet of memory
whispered by

i saw that we exist
for the briefest
of eternities

and are gone
in a flash
that does not end

-- Mr. Gobley


In Praise of Fingers

Lord of Reaching:

Thank you for the
The jointed
The knuckled and nailed
The ridged and rounded
Through which we discover

Thank you for sensation,
A miracle beyond all explanation.

Thank you for all ten,
Each with its own

Thank you for
Their individuality within
Their Unity.

They tell us everything about


-- Mr. Gobley


The Annual Review

i sit across the desk from my employee.
The review forms are fanned out
Beneath my folded hands,
Like a model of an auditorium,
Where my knuckles are the footlights.

My job is not to judge him,
But to know him.
However much I might disavow my power,
Power is what i have.

That power obstructs knowing--
Occludes my sight.
My tiny fiefdom wavers in the harsh winds of commerce:
How, i wonder, did medieval kings review their lords and vassals,
Remain standing in the maelstrom of mutiny and calumny
That daily greeted them?

No matter:
i tell my employee what i know
Ask him to tell me what he knows;
Together we search for agreement
On a way forward;
We smile and laugh;
The way begins.

He has taught me a lot in an hour:
While being reviewed,
He has reviewed me.

Every religious calendar has an annual review:
A moment of introspection,
The divine as silent employer,
The penitent under assessment.

And yet,
Do we not review, as well,
The sacred center of our yearning?

We are all employed
In the service of
Something Great.
It's very possible
That we all know our
At least as well
As our Employer
Us . . .

(For Karen)

Mr. Gobley