to borrow the collected works
of Nathanael West
four small books bound as one.

This afternoon
and sunk in the quiet bathroom
he read his miserably good Hollywood story
The Day Of The Locust and became depressed.

Having finished too soon
(some selfish husband)
he threw the thing aside
but carefully, silently.

Putting down a book
more or less softly
is the most reliable
method of criticism there is.

How can you lie in a bath
with its cold-floored drop
and toss aside Primo Levi
or even The Boys Of Summer?

These are books
among few others
that require a stretching
from the already gray water

to place a volume delicately just there
where the fall of cover on tile
disappears quietly
beneath recently condensed air.

Naturally once this softness has been observed
the sound floods back in.
West was buried in Mount Zion Cemetery, Queens, New York.
Thirty-seven. A car crash.

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