No Disposals


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Bill Direen

A Fairy Tale?

There once was a country far from any other.
It was the furthest away country in the world.
Its poet-regents built up a people’s library,
the finest in the world, whose books
helped them figure out ways to improve the island,
and even to improve the rest of the world.

But the island came to be ruled
by tightrope-walkers and acrobats,
and the poet-rulers were lost in history.
The people lost a generation
to lethal overseas circuses not their own,
and began to think of themselves, mainly.

One day the new rulers decided the time was right.
They would empty the people’s massive library!
It would save them money, and how their voices would echo!
How impressive all that space would be!

And so they sent the books to nearby towns
and to damp warehouses in further away towns.
They said they were going to be kind to the books:
like unwanted pets, or homeless people,
they would find new homes for them!
Little by little the books disappeared.

The citizens who had read about what happens
when you dispose of good books,
tried to warn of the danger;
but the new rulers emptied the library.

They set up hoops to jump through.
This kind of person should jump through this hoop,
and that kind of person must jump through that hoop.
At the end you would get a certificate
and a promotion, and perhaps enter parliament.

So the readers salvaged what they could.
They memorised some stories and poems,
just as in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury;
they helped each other with their researches;
and they lent salvaged volumes among themselves.
Then they published a book expressing all their feelings
and thoughts about books and libraries.

History gave another turn,
and the contortionists who destroyed the books
broke their own necks jumping through the hoops.
The readers’ time had come.
They formed a new government
and built a second library as wonderful as the first.


Bill Direen is a poet-musician. He edited this Reader.