LETTERS IN A POND

Murray knew where to discover Gold.

Here digging through the rubble,
in a warehouse where dirty oceans
of the cast-offs of cast-offs drift
unruly seas are roughly held in gaylord bins:
huge blue plastic bins, square tide-pools, spilling rubble in all directions

bent over deep rows of these giant containers,
blunt hands search.

You are looking in a row of
unwanted books:
thousands
of wet, broken, dead books.

While riffling through pleather bibles,
spine-cracked supermarket paperbacks,
abandoned VHS tapes
an occasional shoe, a mangy stuffed animal, a butter knife

you find
evidence of someone’s mind.

a vein of a broken collection
under a simple, persistent obstacle:
400 National Geographics: periodical seaweed.
A two-foot deep layer of friendly yellow detritus
to drill down through
with only coarse fingers / no pitchfork
to dig down through
the shiny camouflage hiding the real treasure:

an unruly pile of hyper-specific geology texts, limited editions,
one-offs, pamphlets, a bounty for a nasty book-gull like you

Boasting titles like:

Gold-Bearing Polymetallic Veins and Replacement Deposits part II
and the old classic:
Interpretation of Leached Outcrops Bulletin 66.
The latter a curious chalk-yellow booklet half an inch thick
full of mysterious diagrams, tables and photographs of rocks,
brought to you by the lovely people at
the Nevada Bureau of Mines, 1968.

Digging through these hundreds of books
from this massive, ultra-specific collection,
you see ownership often signified by a name in bold block letters:
JOSEPH M. MURRAY.
inside one volume you find his insurance card from 1967
and sunned stationary from the Arizona Biltmore.

You also find floating in the bin
a scrap of brown newsprint
from the Kentucky Herald, June 16th 1909
containing the headline:

LETTERS IN A POND
Lead to the arrest of man and woman
accused of
FOUL MURDER

Later something brown and sticky gets on your hand and stays there
but it’s fine
because you’re going home
with part of someone’s mind,

Your job now to find the geologists, the specialists
waiting with ashamed academic erections
to embrace these displaced works,
and sell the books to them for money.

But you can’t leave well enough alone
and just list them for sale.

In your snoopy junior-internet-detective enthusiasm
you look up Joseph M. Murray’s address from the insurance card.
For what?
to establish provenance?
to find out what great man owned these books
and what he discovered with them?

‘cause surely with books like these, with proud anal titles like:
Magmatic Processes: Physicochemical Principles, a Volume in Honor of Hatten S. Yoder, Jr (Special Publication, No 1)

it must be Murray knew how to discover Gold.
nevermind the Lost Dutchman and panhandlers and diviners,
forget the lost alchemist fumbling for reason and stumbling on science:

this man had the data and knew how to use it . . .
perhaps if you devoted a life to the study of these texts
and all the texts they reference
you too could find the gold.

Your five minute side-road search, a desire to know
how this clearly coveted collection could get dumped
in the dirty As-Is yard of a thrift-store,
a step from the death of meaning,

you find only that these glimpses
of a specific, foreign brilliance
were delivered to your scavenger’s hands
courtesy of Murray’s freshly foreclosed home.

the mystery now washed-out, slate gray.
the Google maps satellite imagery
showing an ordinary track house
where Mr. Murray is no longer home.

Home

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2 Responses to “LETTERS IN A POND”

  1. Makes me want to be a book scout. I imagine you’ve discovered the “bookman” mystery series by John Dunning, Booked to Die, The Bookman’s Promise, etc?

    • I haven’t read him, wasn’t aware of the “bookman” series, not a big mystery reader but I am intrigued by what I just read about the books. Thanks!

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