Poetry on a Dust Jacket

His library houses hardcovers only,
a matter of sophistication and taste.
Books cherished as treasures, heirlooms
to be savored, read and reread
when in a receptive state of mind —
relaxed in a fine leather chair,
under the glow of a proper lamp,
a fine scotch at hand.

Faulkner, Hemingway and Fitzgerald,
T.S. Eliot, Will Durant, other marquee authors,
meticulously placed in the bookcase,
categorized by prominence and theme.

Built-in polished walnut shelves,
handcrafted by Amish artisans
deserve no less than to be graced
by the world’s finest writers.

He holds a new book in his hands,
black and white dust jacket,
The Journals of John Cheever,
Chekhov of the suburbs.
He studies the back cover photo —
Cheever in a tweed jacket, khaki trousers,
open-collared shirt, tasseled loafers.
The author’s hands are in his pockets,
head tilted. Tired eyes suggest lament,
as if considering his confusion,
the reach of his proclivities,
grip of omnipresent demons.

He studies Cheever’s defeated visage,
the capitulation captured in his manner.
He scans the Pulitzer Prize winner’s profile,
reflects on the literary brilliance of the
troubled man, the expanse of his discontent,
inability to relish the sweep of his own talent.
A story captured in a photograph.

He ponders life’s complexities, runs a hand
across the book’s cover, will read the
cathartic journal later — sets it on a shelf.

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Commentary on John Cheever's life as a writer.