Raj Arumugam

Writing Comments: A Tragi-Comic History - Poem by Raj Arumugam

since childhood
and since I first knew
that such unglamorous places as libraries exist
(well, obviously the masses think
places of worship and amusement parks
and cinemas and mosh pits are much more attractive
as these draw crowds like scavengers to carcasses)
ah, but I digress
like a man past fifty
which is what I am -
but, as I was saying,
since I first discovered public libraries
(I couldn’t afford to buy books once
and the books I can afford to buy now
are not worth the dollars
the booksellers say I should part with)
ah, but again I digress…

and as I was saying,
all my reading since innocent childhood
has been of borrowed books
from public libraries
which I read and appreciate
but in which I dare not write comments;
I dare not scribble
in the books
for I am worried about fines
and being labeled ‘delinquent borrower’
and losing my reputation
as being an eminent citizen;
and so I do not write comments
but I have to say something
as you can well understand
to express my disagreement or approbation;
but I cannot write my comments beside the text
or at the end of the short story
or at the end of the poem
or in the margins of utterly un-understandable Einstein
and so with no other way
and my frustrations building
and determining through reason
I should not allow my pent-up emotions
to explode into expletives and ravings
and such implosions and explosions
to screw up my precious emotional and aesthetic life
I decided
since childhood
when I first started reading -
I decided, and
what else could I do?
to explode into expletives and ravings
and such implosions and explosions
and so
unable to write comments
on borrowed material
on public property
I shouted at books
(and still do)
and uttered expletives
(and continue to do so)
or went done on my knees before books
and made sweet moans, something akin
to sexual ecstasy
before, say, a poem of Keats
or shouted and hollered with joy
at a volume of Leaves of Grass
or screamed with disapproval at stories
turned out with worn out plots
and predictable turn of events
where every man had his maiden
and lived happily for ever
well-fed and well-sexed and fatter and happily ever after;
and I made faces at writing
that were just clichés
and poems that waxed lyrical
and I scowled before un-creative pieces
that waffled with thin sentiments
and moans and sighs of love
or of poetic philosophical bombast
and so my reading career,
since childhood -
O most cultured gentlemen and most elegant ladies,
my reading career has been
dogged with explosions of expletives before books I read
or books I refused to read
and also of course with ecstatic cries before
well-written and well-thought out prose or poetry
but, tragically, unable to write on spines or margins
or between lines on borrowed books
this became
a habit so deeply ingrained
I cannot tear myself off from it
and so
you understand why
even in this age of the internet and cyberspace
I find it excruciating to punch in comments
because this borrowed-books mindset
is fixed and screwed so firm in me;
but you can imagine I have
knelt before your poems and blogs
in near sexual-ecstasy
or more unkindly
I have uttered expletives
and shouted obscenities at your blogs and posts
and my family have run in to my study
happily thinking I was going insane
and they could finally confine
me in a Hospital for the Insane
but I am ready
and I just grin with a stolen book of Shakespeare
which I keep near for such occasions
and I say to my precious wife:
Oh, I’m just practicing to direct
a modern production of Shakespeare’s plays
sometime in the future, soon
and disappointed,
the family curses and utters profanities

but I digress -
so back to the subject at hand;
and gentle reader,
perhaps we are both one of a kind
and you too suffer from this
borrowed-books mindset
and you give my poems and blogs
and my online posts
the same treatment I give yours…
well, we understand each other
and we naturally utter obscenities
or kneel with pleasure
but leave no comments or scribble
because the shame of public library censure
has too strong a hold on us…
but what is important is,
we understand each other

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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