the complete review Quarterly
Volume II, Issue 2   --   May, 2001

Four Poems


Karl Sentnel

A Counting
Reading (2)


rows of words and spaces
        - (punctuated, too) -

eyed in odd zigzagging motion
       left to right  JUMP
       left to right  JUMP
       left to right  JUMP

amalgamating into meaning

dexterously manipulated by mind and its eye
into coalescing:
       wholes and  h o l e s
       parts pieces and fragments
       some sensed
       others left : felt

new understandings, or old or none
       found and lost
       implied impressed demanded


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A Counting

I added up the words today.
There were


or less

the same

as yesterday.

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Reading (2)

I bared the book,
removing its jacket
cutting it free of its covers and binding
undoing the stitches.

I separated the sheets
and papered my walls with the pages.

I cut out the words
and tore each to alpha and betical pieces.

And still I can't bear it.

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literary consumption is a wasting disease
literally consuming me
within and without

my books are piled high
around me
on me
in me

an unbearable weight
of facts and fictions

I can not leave them be
it is an addiction
rotting me

and soul

I am feverish
but held in my hands
the paper won't kindle or alight

only my imagination
still not numbed or dulled
(try as I might
with all that is left of my might
to blunt it)
sets the words aflame
as I digest them
and they burn brightly

racked with coughs
I seek to violently expel it all
but the words have clawed themselves fast
my empty hacks of air are dispiriting
but nothing more

death rattles
but nothing more

the words will easily
survive me

I read
and I read
and I read
in compulsive convulsions

there is no quiet rustle
of pages intermittently turned
but a mad rush and crush and ripping
as I delve and dive and burrow through my volumes
never ending
never reaching any end
or purpose

why read
why bother reading
but it is a love
a lust

killing me
killing me

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© 2001 the complete review Quarterly
© 2001 the complete review