Thomas Lux

(1946 / Northampton, Massachusetts)

A Library Of Skulls - Poem by Thomas Lux

Shelves and stacks and shelves of skulls, a Dewey Decimal number inked on each unfurrowed forehead. Here's a skull who, before he lost his fleshy parts and lower bones, once walked beside a river (we're in the poetry section now) his head full of love and loneliness; and this smaller skull, in the sociology stacks, smiling (they're all smiling)—it's been empty a hundred years. That slot across the temple? An ax blow that fractured her here. Look at this one from the children's shelves, a baby, his fontanel a screaming mouth and this time no teeth, no smile. Here's a few (history)—a murderer, and this one—see how close their eye sockets!—a thief, and here's a rack of torturers' skulls beneath which a longer row of the tortured, and look: generals' row, their epaulets on the shelves to each side of them. Shelves and shelves, stacks stacked on top of stacks, floor above floor, this towering high-rise library of skulls, not another bone in the place and just now the squeak of a wheel on a cart piled high with skulls on their way back to shelves while in the next aisle a cart filling with those about to be loaned to the tall, broken-hearted man waiting at the desk, his library card face down before him.

Comments about A Library Of Skulls by Thomas Lux

  • Brian Jani (6/30/2014 7:52:00 AM)

    the skull is the ultimate symbol of death.well written poem Thomas em here (Report)Reply

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  • (1/31/2009 8:38:00 AM)

    'found two layersof skeletons,
    Found but one in the upper layer
    Which was overlooked and
    Uundisturbed by the road gang.

    Reports from Mr. Merrill
    And others that the
    Upper layer of skeletons
    Were placed in a circle
    With the heads in the center
    coinsides (coincides) with the lower layer.

    About a foot below the upper layer,
    As we uncovered seven skeletons
    Whose heads formed a circle,
    About four feet across,
    All these skeletons
    Were face down,
    With the arms crossed and
    The face resting on the arms,
    All bones were so decomposed
    That they were in small fragment.'

    How alike are
    The facts of exploration
    Of burial mounds
    And the writing of poets
    Who know no bounds
    In describing the fate
    Of unknown souls
    That one time passed this way
    On their path on another day.


    The above quote is taken from the log of an investigation by James E. Moore of burial mounds in southwest Florida. The mounds were savaged by road crews that used the mound materials for fill. See: http: //

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Read poems about / on: history, poetry, baby, river, children, smile, lost, child, rose

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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