Stephen Charles Lester

In the mid after-lunch
I walk down to the Tattered
Cover to browse the journals.(1)

            Contrary to reports,
            most of the covers are,
            in fact, quite slick.

This ten-dollar journal,
for example,
is purple and named
after one of the muses.           

            I bet Wallace Stevens
            published here
            after staring
            at the blackbirds
            on the tree
            outside his office
            between bouts
            with the actuarial tables.

This twelve-dollar number
has a sepia textured cover
and a conspicuous name.

           Perhaps it tenured Veblen (2)
            amidst his circumamorous
            seduction of Stanford coeds.

And this seven-dollar piece
looks like the kind of place
where McLuhan gave (3)
us permission to judge
a pub by its cover.

            As evidenced by pages
            6, 31-32, 56, and 70,
            it might be pretty good.

Then I get a text-picture
of a toy stegosaurus.
Apparently, Ellen found it
wandering by Boulder Creek.

            I want to reply
            with the scent
            of book-binding,
            just like I wish
            I could google
            a melody
            by humming—
            assisted synesthesia,
            they call it.

She and I make plans
to meet at this place
that "specializes"
in seven-dollar martinis
in the mid after-school.
            I want to propose
            one global currency—
            backed by the full faith
            of Pantagruel— (4)
            the gin standard.

"Did you hear about the price
of crude? Broke thirty Boodles."
            "I know, it cost me seven
            Gordons to fill up today."

"ITEM—a barrel of cucumbers
beats Hendricks with a twist. "

            "Don't let the grandfatherly
            beard fool you—Bernanke (5)
            never met a dirty martini
            he wouldn't subsidize
            with the hidden tax
            known as inflation."

Because I don't want
to waste the money,
I put the journal down
and walk back to work.
            Gin is the spirit
            flavored with
            juniper berries.

Now if I could only find
that tattered typewriter
Frank O’Hara used to (6)
punch into submission.



 (1) The Tattered Cover is an independent bookstore in Lower Downtown Denver (AKA "LoDo.")

(2) Thorstein Veblen coined the phrase “conspicuous consumption,” among other things, in his famous (and still-relevant) 1899 work, The Theory of the Leisure Class: an economic study of institutions. The text is available via dailylit.com. Veblen was also, in practice,  a womanizer.

(3) Marshall McLuhan, English professor and Canadian grandaddy of all media theorists, coined terms and phrases such as "the medium is the message," the "global village," "hot" and "cold" media,  and others throughout his life's work.

(4) The Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel is a collection of five bawdy and satirical books written by François Rabelais in the 16th century. They detail the adventures (read: excesses) of the titular father-son giants in remarkable clarity.

(5) Benjamin Bernanke is 14th Governor of the Federal Reserve, having succeeded Alan Greenspan in 2006.

(6) i.e., Lunch Poems.






You can read Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class in its entirety here or subscribe to free email or RSS installments of the work here.