Five Poems for Bookmakers and Librarians

Marshall Weber

The below five poems were written and rewritten numerous times over the last four decades while I considered the role of the book, language and writing in my life and in my dreams. All of these poems have appeared in artists’ books of both mine and others. My poems tend to never be completely finished, they change with the times or I adjust them for use in my artists’ books and upon the requests of other publishers and artists’ bookmakers who use them.

I feel that sometimes there are matters that can only be addressed poetically; curators, librarians and journalists sometimes ask me how and why I do this or that, I can answer the “what” and the “how”, but “Why?” and other questions about the spirit and heart seem best answered with poetry. I hope these poems can clarify and inspire the reader to consider the ecological and material reality of both spoken and written language, human and otherwise. I have always been inspired by the beauty of the resonance of human letterforms, calligraphy, books and bookmaking with the natural and spiritual world, and have often conjectured about the birth of these cultural manifestations. I hope these poems can evoke my passionate observations regarding these matters and provoke some similar epiphanies for you, the reader. Lastly, I would like to thank Lilian Landes for courageously supporting this eclectic blog entry.

  • 4:12 AM, 1987
  • Figures of Speech, 2004/2020
  • The Veldt’s Grammar, 1994/2020 – please note that this poem was written collaboratively with artist and Booklyn co-founder Christopher K. Wilde
  • The Tide’s Story, 2006
  • Nervous System, 1998

Figures of Speech, 2008, unique artist’ book, Organik, Christopher Wilde, Marshall Weber, Eliana Perez, Ulrike Stoltz, Uta Schneider, ink, makers, letterpress, collection of Long Island University, NY, © M. Weber

4:12 AM

A man laughing at a flower
you see what happens next.
I have been seen floating over a lake of blood
massive books with cracked leather covers
break the surface of the blood lake
and rise toward me.

He was only happy when he was miserable.
hope prowls
history has made it a wary beast.
They would rather spill milk into the dirt.


Figures of Speech

dance in my mind

call it what you will
causality has always been my favorite

but faith alone
determines the greatness
of any endeavor

you can always trust fire to burn

I had thought that I had said that


see what I mean

you can always trust blood to dry

true or false
in this age of endless equivocation
who can say but you
for you make the words
do interesting and challenging things man
they are but carrion birds on the horizon for me

I have watched
those wavering flickers
tremble as they approached
my eyelids assumed distance
though the reeking smell
foretold intimacy



with thrusts persistent
the grey messengers grew large
their arrowed flight writ out
the last sentence of Zoroaster

your pages are turned down man
every book a feather
on my wing
words pulled out of my heart
tongue tied

ink quilled finger tips
scratch runic

put your book down and sing
while your last breath leaves you
your last chance to greet

 with Christopher K. Wilde


The Veldt’s Grammar

Finally alone in the heat 
sun high 
all is quiet
she exhales a hot sigh

and looks deep into the cave
watching the stick figures 
on the walls mutate 
into dancing letters

she thinks about thinking
about the golden horse
galloping in her head

she turns to look at the veldt
and sees the herds writing
across the line of the horizon

she feels the wind 
paging the leaves
over and over again
as the storm’s lightning
traces future alphabets

The Tide’s Story



hold me with both of your hands

so we both feel the exchange
of blood and ink

let us stare at each other
relentlessly in endless
yet silent

this is the life we share

by the death of beings
gentler than ourselves

quiet and swaying
they bequeathed infinite
with paths as numerous and varied
as their roots
as profound
as the dark earthen depths
to which those tendrils

life’s anchor
securing the laden vessel
holding sails to the sky
and pages to the sun
floating in the sea of words

each water drop a letter
each wave a word
                       a sentence
                                   a paragraph

all telling
the tide’s story


to madness
lunatic imaginings

our legions
of scrawled tinder stick
in our brains

lightning fields stricken
with tangled consciousness


hold me tightly
with both of your hands
turn me
again and again


please help me I have too much joy love living I have my

please help me I have too much joy love living I have my lessons

please help me I have too much joy love living I have my lessons

please help me I have too much joy love living I have my lessons

please help me I have too much joy love living I have my lessons

please help me I have too much joy love living I have my lessons

Mesopotamia, 2009, Organik, unique artists’ book, Organik (Kurt Allerslev, Marshall Weber, Christopher Wilde), turmeric, birch bark, ink, xylene carbon transfer, collection of Tufts University, Boston, MA (features The Veldt’s Grammar poem) © M. Weber

Nervous System

she sleeps
buried in her beauty
baby animals’ dreams

cascading hair spreads
like moonbeams on a soft pillow
tracing the roots of the tree
whose branches and leaves shadow
the lines on her face
and the veins in her hands

her fingers are still in poses
that reflect her body
arm and legs lightly contoured by the sheet
which seems to float a hairsbreadth above her skin
it’s draping reminding me of gentle calligraphy
with letter forms of coral and rivers
roadways and maps

a groundhogs dirt path through the woods
an orchids bloom
a child’s brushstroke
the convolutions of my brain
the infinite mirroring
of dendrites, capillaries and the constellations
of the branching chandelier suspended above her
casting dim golden highlights

upon all these nervous systems

The Emotional Tourist, 2014, by Re:Surgo! (Meloo Gfeller and Anna Hellsgard), a unique book featuring my poetry, screen print, collection of Stanford University
© M. Weber

Zum Autor

Marshall Weber war 1999 Mitbegründer und ist jetzt leitender Kurator der Booklyn, Inc., einer weltweit renommierten New Yorker Künstlervereinigung, die sich ganz dem Künstlerbuch verschrieben hat. Weber ist Träger des Künstlerbuchpreises 2019 der Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, wo er das Projekt „The Wolfenbüttel People’s Library“ entwickelte: Webers breites künstlerisches Schaffen und seine internationalen Verdienste um das Genre Künstlerbuch (bis etwa nach China, wo er mit Xu Bing zusammenarbeitet) hier auch nur ansatzweise schildern zu wollen, muss scheitern… Weitere Informationen

Diesen Artikel zitieren: Marshall Weber, “Five Poems for Bookmakers and Librarians“, in Kunst zwischen Deckeln, 05. Juni 2020,

Diesen Blogbeitrag zitieren
redaktionbookarts (2020, 5. Juni). Five Poems for Bookmakers and Librarians. Kunst zwischen Deckeln. Abgerufen am 18. Juni 2024, von

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