local_library One Good Bad Way

by John Lee Clark

Published in Issue No. 159 ~ August, 2010

you can make me really famous

is going to the bookstore

carrying a suspicious-looking bag.

When you get to me in the line

for my autograph, you can blow me away

with how much of me you can quote.

Then you should hold my book close

as you walk away, leaving

behind your bag to tick away.

A good time to do it

would be when the book you’re holding close

is my New and Selected Poems.

It’s always downhill from there.

You can say that what you’re doing

is sending me down a ski jump

from which I am to soar into that false light,

never to come down again.

That would be sweet of you

but that’s not what I want you to do.

What I want you to do

is the bad good way,

going to the bookstore

for a book by someone else.

Carrying that book close,

you are welcome to pick my book up

because it has a bargain sticker on it

and because you feel a little sorry for me.

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John Lee Clark was born deaf and became blind in adolescence. His chapbook of poems is Suddenly Slow (Handtype Press, 2008) and he edited the definitive anthology Deaf American Poetry (Gallaudet University Press, 2009). His work has appeared in many publications, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, McSweeney's, Poetry, and The Seneca Review.