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An Apparently Respectable Man's Conversation with an Insurance Appraiser

And His Deconstruction of How It All Went Wrong

On the right of this desk

Tucked back against the wall

Is a votive candle 

Set atop a birch round.

For its size and its weight

The wooden cylinder

On which the candle rests

Serves well as a book-end.

To the left of the round

Stand thirty-three paper-backs

And one leather-bound book

Commissioned by King James.


Centered on this desk-top

Is a Mercator chart

Now decades obsolete

And quite profoundly flawed.


East Jerusalem sits

Outside of Israel;

The Soviet Union

Remains wholly intact.


On this desk's other end

An old chemistry stand

With a round flask on top

Keeps the books from falling.


Among all the volumes

Is just one hard-bound text

Which concerns itself

With Galapagos fauna.


This book rests up against

The old chemistry stand's

Vertical element

And its pages are worn.


I should speak in past-tense;

That book is all but ash,

As are all the others.

It's quite unfortunate.


Here's what I think happened:

After thumbing around

Some philosophy book

I re-shelved it poorly.


Apparently it tipped

While I took a phone call

In the room down the hall

And proceeded to fall. 


The votive -- having burned

Much of its wax by now --

Weighed far less than before

So the book-end did, too.


Because the map's surface

Was slick the birch round slid

Some distance and allowed

Those thirty books to fall. 


The Bible tipped to the flame,

Its delicate pages

Acting, in an instant,

As shepherds to the blaze. 


Because the books had toppled

Much like dominoes do,

Each conveyed the fire

Quite quickly to the next. 


In very little time

(While I was still away)

The collection -- in its

Entirety -- turned dust.


By the time I arrived

All that remained aflame

Was the Mercator chart;

I just let it burn out.


I'll need some new sheet-rock

And a gallon of paint. 

I think I can just scrub

the soot from the ceiling.


Concerning all the books:

I've already read them;

It was high time I got

Rid of some of that shit.


The real tragedy

Is that old vintage map --

Limited edition --

It was one of a kind.  

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