Poem – Cover To Cover (By Gil Hoy)

Cover to Cover – By Gil Hoy
I’ve loved to read,
listen to the melodious
flow and tempo of another man’s
written words and sentences
through my eyes but in my brain,
for as long as I can remember.
In elementary school,
I trekked each day
along the cobblestone alley behind our house
with a carrier full of books on my back,
a Sherpa on his way to base camp.
I visited my third grade chum
up the street back then,
one foot after the other
in a determined rhythmical gait,
like young Lincoln walking
to his first days of school.
Hour after thirsty hour,
we flipped through pages and pages
of our books then, in a quiet little study
in his home. It had the simplicity and the air
of a Quaker meeting house.
I once heard the promptings
of truth within those four walls, it’s curious
how silence sometimes speaks, but neither my friend
nor I were moved by the inner light
to talk very much on those still afternoons.
I often read the Hardy Boys books back then,
with their picture covers and timeless plots.
There were only forty-two of them in 1963,
and I devoured them all. I didn’t know then
that there was actually no writer
named Franklin W. Dixon.
Today, I read about weightier things,
the problems of the world: nuclear proliferation,
Ebola, global warming, what seem to be
endless meaningless wars. Back then
my friend’s mom would now and again
set out milk and cookies for us to eat.
The cookies looked like planets of rock and dirt
circling two white stars. Their sugar
made our perusal faster.
The better the book the more
you didn’t want it to end.
My books were not metaphors then,
and biographies could still inspire.
You start with chapter one.
If there were twenty, by the time
you got to ten or so
you were tormented
by the prospect of finishing.
The pages went by so fast,
as a bus you run after
but miss, and you knew
the end was coming,
like the last bite of a favorite meal.
My angst is different now.
I read about ISIS,
vanishing northern right whales,
and grievous political candidates
who say what they think you want
to hear because it’s politically expedient,
rather than do
the country’s business.
You grow tired of hearing people lie
and you come to doubt
our institutions
and the law— no polish
will remove that stain.
Reading in my friend’s meeting house
would often get me thinking.
It occurred to me on one of those
unspeaking afternoons
that my impending death
was much the same as my book
and that I was on chapter four.
I wasn’t troubled because
there was still so far to go.
(Having not yet reached ten.)
But I was aware, for the first time,
of my own mortality.
The words and the pages
of my book seemed
different then,
each page a whole day nearer.
Today, I am almost sixty.
Now I wonder if the world
can survive its woes
and whether the grandchildren
of my grandchildren
will even get here.
Perhaps nuclear war
with just too many missiles
and players for the world
ever to recover,  a pretty colorful
solar storm much more powerful
than the one in 1859, disobedient
armies of self-preserving computers
or runaway asteroids exploding oceans,
like ruinous bombs
on villages of the weak.
I worry that the world is like
my old third grade book,
now more worn but still true,
and I have no idea
what chapter we may be on.
The ephemeral perfection
of goldilocks planet
has always been that it is not too hot
and not too cold, with just the right
amount of water, looks like a blue
marble with white swirls
when standing on sterile rock
of the moon, so pretty and elegant.
Back then I would sometimes eat
a third cookie if they were sweet chocolate.
I savored each bite and lots of cold milk
to wash it all down.
What does it mean
that the milky way
is just one of billions of galaxies?
Is the universe dying?  Can we read it in the stars?
Given the big bang, like an explosion of planets
from the head of a ruderal species,
futures of finite and infinite duration
are both possible
depending upon physical properties
and the expansion rate.
Some scientists say that the universe
is flat like a silver dollar
and will expand forever, contingent on
its shape and the role dark energy plays
as the universe ages.
Otherwise the big rip
splits the earth away,
like ripping out the pockets
of an aging wrinkled man  or a lion
tearing apart a spent zebra.
When I got to my friend’s house
on that rainy afternoon,
I learned that his mother had died.
The drawn drapes in the windows
cloaked our meeting room
and the house was so cold and so dark .
I didn’t know what to do. So I filled my carrier
with all of my books and started
the long trudge back home. I no longer
eat sweet chocolate cookies
washed down by cold milk.
Author Bio:
Gil Hoy is a Boston trial lawyer and is currently studying poetry at Boston University, through its Evergreen program, where he previously received a BA in Philosophy and Political Science. Hoy received an MA in Government from Georgetown University and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. Hoy started writing poetry two years ago. Since then, his work has appeared in Third WednesdayThe Write RoomThe Eclectic Muse, Clark Street Review, The New Verse News, Harbinger Asylum, Soul Fountain, The Story Teller Magazine, Eye on Life Magazine, Stepping Stones Magazine, The Penmen Review, To Hold A Moment Still (Harbinger Asylum’s 2014 Holidays Anthology), The Zodiac Review, Earl of Plaid Literary Journal, The Potomac, Antarctica Journal, The Montucky Review and elsewhere.