Once read, the body of a book
Can also serve as a press for the chest
Stretched on the rack
Until the spine sheds the proper page.
This prisoner knows the disembodied page
Can be revised into a knife,
For blunt force trauma, an encyclopedia’s
Leather binding is best
For absorbing blacks and blues.
As are religious texts, the kinds
Which shut like gates, the orgies
Of the Library of Alexandria
Receding at this prisoner’s back, their static profane
And same as the white scroll a doctor stretches atop
The examination table, beneath the experiment;
Is there even any slur for literacy?
If so, it hunkers in the mill outside the prison,
Where, at this juncture, the spirit world wracks
A lake’s intestinal tract,
The paper mill frothing with hymns
Until all water gains a pleasant tang;
Imagine complaining about that,
Describing for God clean water’s nothing taste.
But the Striped Bass that suffer the lake aren’t right
On the inside; choked into survival mode,
They become inedible
White tumult, scale and chemical, any
Knowledge digested to instinct, that profane,
Until black liquor is all they breathe.
Christopher Munde’s poetry has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Blackbird, The Hollins Critic, Hunger Mountain, Massachusetts Review, Third Coast, and elsewhere. He completed his MFA at the University of Houston in 2008, and received an Academy of American Poets Prize in the same year. Presently, he lives in western NY, where he teaches at Jamestown Community College.