BY | Posted on | FILED UNDER Categories Bibliomancy, Queens, Uncategorized, Vaticinate

On Thursday, February 27th, I waited to board my plane to Minneapolis, at LaGuardia. To kill time, I went, as I often do, to look for books, to stack a poem with the titles sold there, gently rearranging the bookshelves. Browsing the shelves at CIBO Express, this poem emerged:

The Night Window

Since we fell we were
the lucky ones,
the perfect couple
lost in the cabin
at the end of the world,
becoming the border,
the brink

It had an ominous ring to it. It left me a bit uneasy. Having done this at all types of book venues, from libraries and private homes, to independent and chain bookstores, titles offered at airport bookstores often fall in one of four categories: hot business, hot politics, hot romance, and hot self-help. The poems I stack there often have a level of anxiety that aren’t necessarily mine.
Once in Minnesota I stayed at the home of friends’ friends, a psychologist and her husband. I shared the poem with them and their friend, resulting in a delightful conversation. I implied I might rearrange some of their books. They laughed, and I gleaned from their response that they wouldn’t mind if I would. The guest room was next to her office. On the wall hung a framed photo of a group of campers, with a title: “I often think something marvelous is about to happen.” That text was an invitation for a book poem to be built on. Needing little impetus, I did. The office shelves were packed with psych books and children’s books, a potent combination.

I often think
something marvelous is about to happen

I’m a frog
singing the living tradition.

Where there is no doctor
cure the little prince
thinking in systems—

the whisper—
the way things work
stumbling on happiness
where the sidewalk ends

To my surprise this poem echoed the sentiment of The Night Window, an answer perhaps, or at least a continuation, more upbeat, but also with an open-ended last line, that begs for a sequel yet again… What’s next? If the first poem alludes to a proverbial mythological dark forest, its sequel might hold a key to emerging from it, to reenter the secret mysteries of our universe, our lives in it. Be well.

6 thoughts on “The Night Window. BIBLIOMANCY or VATICINATION?”

  1. Wow, Erik, this is my favorite post from you so far!

    I have always loved cutting up newspapers & old books and rearranging the words to create poems, so this real-world poetry search is extremely alluring to me. A wonderful way to keep the mind active during the time of corona.

    1. Hi Rebecca,

      Thank you for this wonderful note. The “cento”—a literary work made up of quotations from other works—and variations thereof are a way of composing new texts in dialogue with language others have thought about, and giving it new context, especially when it is an answer to or a riff on what you started with. You may be interested in the Writhing Society, a salon for writing with constraints, I co-lead, hosted by the Central Library once a month, as of last month by way of Zoom. We’ll meet again this Saturday. See: Hope to see you there.

      Be well,


  2. Hi Erik,
    the perfect couple
    lost in the cabin
    at the end of the world

    These words do anticipate the isolation all of us are living, in our cabins at the end or the center or the beginning of the world. To allow for chance is sometimes to VATICINATE!

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