Special Collections Room, San Francisco Main Library

Most of the books
are gone. Face it; they've been
replaced. People wait
in line for a half-an-hour allowance
to monitor the world.

Walking this new building --
mold for the Guggenheim exterior if
I remember correctly, if there is
such a thing --
it isn't long and isn't soon
before I find
Canterbury Tales in the collections room.

The librarian has my driver's license.
Handmade paper, handmade binding,
ink, font, typesetting,
made for the occasion
of building this book, he says, placing it
in a cradle of sponge.

In a half-an-hour I make love.
"No one can read it, they just look at it,"
he says, like he's mad at me after
I've put my sweaty hands
on the Wyf of Bath.

It's closing time.
Old regulars fall
in love with their Tenderloin whores.
I have a crush on this book.
Downstairs, there are no lines.

Charles Kang

If you are Charles Kang, please email Snakeskin -- your old email address is defunct!