(The Pillow Book) Seventh Book: The Book of Youth

The Book of Youth

If God approved of his creature’s creation,
He breathed the painted clay-model into life by signing His name

Where is a book before it is born? Does a book grow like a tree?
Who are a book’s parents?
Does a book need two parents – a mother and a father?
Can a book be born inside another book?
And where is the parent book of books?
How old does a book have to be before it can give birth to another?
Do young books cry and scream if they are not read or fed ?
Do they pass words with incontinent abandon?
Do they force every random found sentence into their mouths?
This book is past the first flush of youth.
it is a book that is in puberty.
It is hesitating, and from the vantage point of the mature reader,
it is both a sad and amusing reminder
of the part which is not
always attractive enough to be revisited.
The cover is becoming crisp like the
hardening of wood on a young tree.
Its pages are pliable and taste a little of salt.



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(The Pillow Book) The Sixth Book:The Book of the Lover

The Book of the Lover

This is a book and a body
that is so warm to the touch
My touch.
I have pressed this book to my eyes,
to my forehead, to my cheeks,
I have held this book open across my belly.
I have sat smiling on this book
until my flesh felt wedded to its covers.
I have sat laughing on this book until I have moistened
its covers with my body.
I have wrapt this book around my legs.
I have knelt on this book until my knees bled.

This book and I have become indivisible.
I have placed my feet on this book’s last pages,
confident of standing so much higher in the world
than I ever stood before.
May I keep this book forever.
May this book and this body outlast my love.
May this body and this book love me as I love its
length, its breadth, its thickness, its text,
its skin, its letters, its punctuation, its quiet
and its noisy pages.
Its tickling delights.

Book, body -I love you
it breathes gently in its first page.
It breathes deeper as the pages turn.
When the rhythm of reading is ensured, the words gain a roaring speed and the pages race.
I have raced with these pages.

At its ending there is a sigh and the book is closed in contentment.
The reader willingly begins again.
Body and book are open.
Face and page.
Body and page.
Blood and ink.
Finger ends, ferruled edging.
The surface of each page’s edge is so smooth.
The watermarks are like flushed veins.
The pages are so harmonious in their proportion
Disharmony in the contents is impossible.



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(The Pillow Book) The Fifth Book: The Book of the Exhibitionist

The Book of the Exhibitionist

A gaudy volume, gross and florid,
too many pages stuffed into too
fleshy covers. An overweight volume.
It’s greasy with expanded effort.
Each word is pumped up with consonant cholesterol.
It’s full of fat words.
The pages cream with subcutaneous fat,
New letters are guilded like showy teeth,
making comprehension constipated
and exorbitantly metalled.
This book needs to lose weight.
If you want to drop it,
watch your feet.
It’s a toe-breaker.
Its own weight would crush its spine.
The pages have been liberally scented,
but the aroma has palled and grown stale.
The pages smell of sour glue,
or the bad breath of a liar
to spend time smiling with sticky gums.

All sweet taste and no enduring substance.
All glitter and gases.
This book is gaudy like a gilded cauliflower
which smells so bad after
a good hot water soaking,
like hot chocolate sweetened with sugar beet
incompatibles blended incongruously
to no purpose.
Chapter One promises excess.
Chapter Twelve proves the particular promise,
truly wearisome.
A reader is required to sweat his way to
avoiding the craters of hyperbole that scar its pages.
Every adjective is underlined
as though incapable of sitting still on the page,
incapable of being an equal to its neighbour.
Its humour is heavy and vulgar
full of expletives commanding you
to appreciate its wit.

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(The Pillow Book) The Fourth Book: The Book of Impotence


The Book of Impotence

Is this a book exhausted from too much reading?
Or too little reading?
From the hairs on the head to the
end of the toe-nails – the pages are marked with the stains of use.
Or miss-use,
Better that the words had been read
off the page.
Do the words still signify?
Is there still a space between chapters
or have all matters blurred?
In this book the index of entries
is longer than the book itself.
This life has so many footnotes
it ought to be all flatfeet,
its soul layered deep
in calloused blisters and corns.
The major sweep of this book’s living
is too often marred by qualifying.
It is hedged about with ifs and buts
and if onlys
and howevers,
excuses for a life that is about to shut
its covers for the last time
and then crumple into dust
in an unseen
and never-to-be-remembered library.

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(The Pillow Book) The Third Book: The Book of the Idiot

The Book of the Idiot

This a sad cage of a book full of words
but little meaning
It rings hollow when tapped for sense.

Whilst vacant, empty, and pop-eyed on one page,
It speaks gibberish and loud nonsense on the next,
Its lungs are noisy when it is silent.

It is silent when it huffs and puffs to make the most noise.
Perhaps there should be patience and pathos
Reserved for this congenital idiot,
Drooling, sucking his finger,
Digesting his thoughts,
Scratching his head and his belly,
Looking for fleas between the pages of his legs.
But such sympathy and patience is wasted here.

Or perhaps there should be caution
And secret admiration for the idiot-book
That is licensed to speak the truth through humour.
A fool can usefully puncture conceit
But that admiration is wasted here.

This book has neither the virtue of irony
Nor deserves the sympathy reserved for the truly mad.
Between loud noise and vacant silence there is nothing

How do you read such a book?
Perhaps you do not or you cannot.
Perhaps at best – it can be re-used, re-written.
Perhaps we should turn our back on it.
We could find space between its major crease of flatulent
for another book.
We should have it returned for another try
Lest it be remaindered and lost
On some forgotten low shelf
Kept for waste paper in the privy.


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(The Pillow Book) The Second Book: The Book of the Innocent

The Book of the Innocent

This is an innocent book – unused and unread,
An innocent with three hundred milk-white pages,
and no illustrations.

The pages are still dusty with a white powder from the manufacturer.

The pages taste sweet – like milk awaiting the
spike of the pen,
the dirtying ink,
and the prying hairs of the brush,
all seeking to invade the
intricate spaces of the book’s virginity.

The binding is tense – sewn up tight, awaiting a little bending and breaking.

The pages lay flat and crisp
the muscles of the pages sleek.

No unnecessary flesh
has been encouraged to run to excess by random

The moistened thumb of the
expectant reader has not yet marked the
soft tissues of this lean clean smiling volume.

Spread me,
and break me open,
for pleasure.


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(The Pillow Book) The First Book: The Agenda


The Agenda


I want to describe the Body as a Book
A Book as a Body.
And this Body and this Book
Will be the first Volume  Of Thirteen Volumes.


The first bulk of the book is in the torso,
Seat of the lungs
That fan the wind that dries the ink.
Seat of the heart
That pumps the ink
That is always red
Before it is black.

The heart and two lungs are held upright,
Close, but not touching neighbours,
Sheltered by the covers of the ribcage,
Watermarked with dark twin punch-hole paper titles.
The breath of inspiration runs amongst them
Drawn down from the air by their shared influence.

Nape to Coccyx

No function of book or body is singular
If a multiple service can be performed.
So the inspirational air
Shares the same passageway
With salts, words,
Sentences, Sweeteners, Paragraphs.
They all come tumbling down to flutter
onto the ruminating page,
To lie in serried rows like rice-stalks
In afield, or stitches in a tatami,
Patiently awaiting irrigation
By water or by vision
Even if a reader does not appear for a thousand years.


The second bulk of the book is in the belly
Factory for the mixing of materials,
A taborato of sorting and threading,
Retaining and Remaindering,
A publishing house in continual flux,
Stamped with the indente chop of the navel,

Seldom idle, Never still,
Sharing space with preparations
For the future with the irony of economy.
Future and Past sharing the same thoroughfare.
Book and body always showing their evolutionary history.

Penis and Scrotum

I am the very necessary Coda
The tail-piece,
the ever reproducing
The last dangling paragraph
that is the reason
for the next book’s

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