This house on fire

The library makes the small mouse noises
Of a patient after defibrillation


I have eaten my way through several volumes
Of the intimate correspondence 
Of poets and kings


Learning (almost) nothing


Except the peculiar bombast and reserve
Turned in that intimate, sinister way
To bemusing incriminations
Of those who know their private thoughts
After death will be widely dissected


A particularly servile aggrandisement
(The fireplace alive with sparks)
To providence and
The self-important moment


Knowing (almost) nothing
I gnaw on


While grandiloquent lives become
The substitute for everyday dissection
Limbs splayed and pinned
Entrails and misdemeanours 
Humbly and shamefacedly arranged


The map (almost) illegible 


With that turned half away
Scalpel bright
But strangely grief-struck grin

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