Here the readers gather to watch the books die. They die suddenly, as if thrown from an airplane, or from spontaneous cardiac arrest. They live, and then suddenly they die, and the reader who watches this is at the moment of the books' death bombarded with images documented through the smiling lipstick face of a journalist who has shown up to report on the death of the books. The milk was poisoned and forty-two babies died, she laughs, as she fondles the ashes of the dead books. And the death of forty-two babies is equal in value to the death of this book which is equal in value to the ninety-year old woman who shot herself while the sheriff waited at her door with an eviction notice which is equal in value to the collapsing of the global economy which is equal to the military in country XYZ seizing the land of the semi-nomadic hunters and cultivators of crops who have lived in the local rain forest for thousands of years. The reader opens a dead book and finds an infinite amount of burnt ash between the bindings, and when the ash blows in the wind the lipstick says that every death in the world is equal to every other death in the world which is equal to every birth in the world which is equal to every act of dismemberment which is equal to the death of a jungle which is equal to the collapse of the global economy; and hey look there’s another lady falling out of a window; she looks about equal to the poet hurled out of his country for words he wrote but which did not belong to him and whose death is about equal to the girl who was shot on the bus on her way to school this morning which is just about the same as the bearded man whose head was shoved into a sac while water was dumped over it and he died for an instant and came back to life and talked and talked and that’s about equal to the steroid illegally injected into the arm of a beautiful man who makes forty million dollars a year for injecting his arms with steroids so he can more skillfully wave a wooden stick at a ball, and in the ash we see the truest democracy there ever was: hey look it’s a little baby found in a dumpster how equal you are says the smiling lipstick to the civilized nation whose citizens walk the flooded streets looking for their homes, and in the ashes of the dead book the dead streets are equal to the eating disorders of movie stars which are equal to the dead soldiers who are equal to the homeruns which are equal to the bomb dropped by country ABC over weddings in the village of country XYZ which is equal to the earth swallowing up and devouring all of its foreigners which is just about equal to the decline in literacy in the most educated nation in the planet. There is no end to this book. There are no paragraph breaks to interrupt the smiling lipstick that goes on and on in one string of ashy words about how the declaration of peace is equal to the resumption of war and how the bodies that fall are equal to the birds that ascend and how the bomb in the Eiffel Tower is equal to the rising cost of natural gas, and the murmurs of the voices in the mud are equal to the murmurs of the expensive suits falling out of buildings and these are equal to the silence that kills with one breath and coddles life with another.
Daniel Borzutzky, "The Book of Equality" from The Book of Interfering Bodies. Copyright © 2011 by Daniel Borzutzky. Reprinted by permission of Nightboat Books, www.nightboat.org.
Source: The Book of Interfering Bodies
(Nightboat Books, 2011)
Poems by Daniel Borzutzky