Monday, September 3, 2012

Michael A. Arnzen


Coming to,
it took her a moment
to notice I'd bound her
to the banister that led
to the children's section
where I once sat on her lap
and she read to me and played
a private show-and-tell.

I tore up books
and flung them in the air.
Three times
she tried to scream
but I shushed her
with a fitting finger-
and a whack on the head
with an errant, empty
card catalog drawer.

Soon, she was buried beneath a pile—
thousands of colorful torn pages.
Cartoons of curious monkeys
grinned up at me. A ragged title
page said Goodnight beside her
wide, tear-ridden and bruised face.
A Little Engine said I could.

I leaned against the stairwell,
lighting a smoke and
reading from my ebook device.
Her eyes alit red with hatred.
She muttered something about
the death of books
and roiled about kids today
and became so crazed
I knew she'd never
recognize me, not even
when I struck a match
off the screen of my Kindle,
held it up to my face,
and asked her—or did I order her?—
to remember me
before I tossed the flame to the pile.

The cartoon characters
came to life, curling
and crisping around her
like horror film ghosts
swarming, smoky and fast.

I let myself out once
I was satisfied
the sprinklers wouldn't work
and the roar of the books
raged behind me
shushing the librarian silent
for good.

Michael reads "This is How I Murdered The Librarian":

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Michael confesses: "This brutal little poem began with a title and I just let my imagination went to a very dark place, and though the revenge is poetic, it's so nihilistic that no one wins, save the ghosts. This may be more about crimes against books than anything else."

MICHAEL A. ARNZEN has won four Bram Stoker Awards for his often funny, always disturbing horror fiction. His latest book is The Gorelets Omnibus (Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2012), which collects a decade of his poetry in hardcover form. Arnzen teaches full-time in the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University, and lives near Pittsburgh with his wife and cats. He visits libraries often. His website is

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