All of the Above

“The Bad Book” Unknown Artist, Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program


All of the Above

By Jason Ryberg


All of the Above

A book of poems is
a family photo album
for a spectacularly dysfunctional family,

a scrapbook of newspaper clippings,
wedding announcements, obituaries
and concert ticket stubs,

a file cabinet full of classified documents,
elaborately detailed conspiracy theories
and jealously guarded recipes.

A book of poems is
a jelly jar full of fortune cookie fortunes,

an ancient tome of forbidden knowledge,

a grimoire of (otherwise) benign
spells, hexes, hoodoos and charms.

A book of poems is (at least)
equal parts scrapyard and curio shop,
(bus station at 2am  / country crossroads at midnight),

a shoebox full of old post cards
and love letters,

a rolodex of dead or merely
recommissioned phone numbers
(I’m sorry, who were you looking for?)

A book of poems is an estate sale for a wealthy,
eccentric hoarder who has been missing
and presumed dead for nearly a decade.

an operator’s manual for a machine
that hasn’t been invented yet,

a road atlas for a lost continent.

A book of poems is …

all of the above.


About the Author: Jason Ryberg is the author of twelve books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry  letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collections of poems are Zeus-X-Mechanica (Spartan Press, 2017) and A Secret History of the Nighttime World (39 West Press, 2017). He lives part-time in Kansas City with a rooster named Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters. 

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