By Arnold Serapilio
Welcome, dear visitor. Forsake the noisy street.
Take a moment to hang your coat, allow your stress to delete.
I cannot help but notice you have a searching look
of one in pursuit of knowledge. Can I help you find a book?
You were told we have oddities here, and you really wanted to see ‘em.
You reached for your jacket, laced up your shoes, made your way clear to our dear Athenæum.
Forgive my continuous cackling, though do you find it quite strange?
Might it suggest a personality type of one who is prone to derange?
What's so funny?
Spare a moment old chap, and I promise you that it will be to your lasting delight.
I’ll keep the tedium to a medium and you may even encounter a fright.
Teeheehee I’m just kidding, no need to worry, there’s nary a scary around.
And with your good blessing, my soon-to-be friend, I will escort you around the compound.
For as it reads in the good book:
Let that sink in and as we begin
have you ever heard word
of our book bound in sin?
Our building’s a landmark, prized by all measure.
Our special collections are lousy with treasure.
Our books speak in volumes of truths the eternal.
Of secrets, and wishes, and terrors infernal.
Take care not to step on those books on the floor
Who put them there? Was it gravity’s chore?
There’s plenty around here for you to adore.
This bookcase, for instance, when pressed, is a door.
Through it we pass into hallways unknown.
The lighting is low in this particular zone.
And as such you’ll find not a shadow you cast
upon visages of librarians past.
There’s Fielding, and Baxter, there’s Long but not Bow,
And Mortimer Marrowbone, whom you no doubt don’t know.
When he was a child he vibed rather odd.
Seems when he smiled he thought he was god.
He was painfully shy, so seldom he spoke.
Yet he’d open his mouth to tell a sick joke.
But oh, that magic when his paper met pen!
Spinning yarns night to day and until night again.
As he aged, pressure mounted, he started to buckle.
(I can’t help but notice you are starting to chuckle.)
What's so funny?
His hands fell off he wrote so much; had them sewed back on.
He wrote and wrote and wrote some more, ‘til all his thoughts were gone.
Having left his brain, boarded a train for lands we’ll never know.
His shabby home he left in chaos, only his notebooks in tow.
But let us, for a moment, depart from old Marrow’
to the end of this hall that you’ll notice does narrow.
It’s long and circuitous but I swear it will end.
I’m sure you’ve affairs to which you must attend.
Do you detect a distinct chill in the air?
Then again, you wonder, was it always there?
And if you believe that too far we roam,
Do you think you’ll be able to find your way home?
What's so funny?
You still have some time left, though you’re starting to smirk.
It behooves me to stop yammering on like a jerk.
We’ve arrived at a door, and on the other side
lurks an evil so vast that we dare not abide!
What evil, exactly? Well, we’re back to ol’ Mort.
I’ll continue that story, if it pleases the court.
Whatever was in him—that viciousness, biting—
He harnessed all that, poured it into his writing.
At first people thought that his book was a gas.
But soon after reading, the worst came to pass.
His readers endured a mysterious turn.
A presence got in that was hard to discern.
You’re dying to know, your face does betray a distinctly untoward curiosity.
No matter how horrible, no matter how terrible, no matter how grim the atrocity.
Be apprised in advance that the door only opens if at first we draw innocent blood.
Just a prick of the finger will do it, mind you—we need not occasion a flood.
You’re on board, I deduce from your snickering, your proffered hand is fresh indication.
The door is responsive to your sacrifice; I’ll prop it open for air circulation.
I know what you’re thinking, your interest is shrinking, as we stand at the top of this spiral.
Though the steps are countless they need not be daunting or elicit any more than an eyeroll.
And as we go down we will twirl all around and you may just begin to feel dizzy.
The effects must be showing, your laughter is growing. I hope you weren’t terribly busy.
What's so funny?
A vortex of specters ever yearning for purchase.
Throat tightened, you’re frightened, are they here to besmirch us?
Left the earthly behind, as souls often do, through an inter-corporeal portal.
Nevertheless, I forthwith confess, they’ll send chills down your bony spine cordal.
At the bottom of the stairs we are walking on errs but before us, another paywall.
This time the price is meant to entice: a mere $0.15 is all.
We enter the room, it is cold as a tomb, you can sense there is something amiss.
It’s Marrowbone’s tome, this is its home, its pages the keepers of bliss.
And now I will tell you the rest of his story.
The details of which are lurid and gory.
You may bristle at first, even venture to flee.
That would be pointless—my grave guarantee.
A book, you should know, is a sentient beast.
It possesses you fully, will heed not a priest.
What happened to Marrowbone’s readers, you ask?
You’re finding out now, are you up to the task?
His book was so funny people started to laugh.
Got passed around to everyone on the staff.
They say nothing beats illness like a spoonful of laughter.
But nobody tells you what happens to you after.
Your laughter unfurls ‘til it’s beyond your grasp,
your breathing constricted by an invisible asp.
When everything’s funny then nothing is funny, and nothing is ever the same.
Tragedies are hilarious, comedies pitifully tame.
And as for the person who in search of a muse,
takes in Marrowbone’s words—madness ensues!
By now you must know the spot that you’re in.
No point in denying, so much to chagrin.
But why, may I ask, is this all so uncouth?
To stumble about as you grapple with truth?
What does Marrowbone give us? A blessing? A curse?
A worldview to practice ‘til our ride in the hearse?
Just one more thing, over there in that room.
See all those people? Are they huddled in gloom?
Having read M-bone’s book, and jettisoned vanity,
They are chortling, giggling, embracing insanity.
Arranged in a circle, guffawing and snorting, hands upon heaving bellies.
And oh, my dear friend, to your nose please attend, there’s an odious wave of the smellies.
They point at the floor, where lies twisted form, a curious case of some matter
no longer animate—flesh, and that’s it!—the soul having opted to scatter.
What's so funny?
Seriously—what's so funny?
What is so funny?
You understand how their laughter got started—
It’s the grandiose stillness of one who’s departed.
So freaky, so final—you’re laughing the loudest!
You’ve come around, and you’ve made me the proudest.
You have taken to your new state with such vigor,
as one who laughs at mortis rigor.