Shakespeare sits cross-legged on the worn high-traffic rug, piles of periodicals strewn all about him like anxious groundlings.

“Ay!  There’s the rub.” 

He obsessively rips perfume samples out of various glamour magazines and swipes them all over his frayed woolen tunic.

The aroma of “Euphoria” and turnips is unsettling. 

 Masking the musk of 17th Century Old English is not as simple as it seems, and Shakespeare is beginning to feel outdated.

“Poor rat bastard!” 

 Ginsburg steps gingerly over Shakespeare’s brooding form and for a brief moment the feverish eyes of the 1960’s and the rheumy eyes of the 1690’s lock in a gaze of serendipity.

Ginsburg has no patience for unrequited love, but he does have tolerance for unrequited lovers. 

“Do you want to come to Cummings poker night with me, Billy?  We could use another queen.”

Shakespeare appears dazed.

  “Forsooth, Knave Ginsburg, thy tongue doth cloak itself around language foreign to mine ear.  The dainty blush of m’lady’s delicate meter is but the sole sound of love’s poetry and all that needs be heard.  Be off to thy game of chance and leave me to mine unrequited reverie, mine unwavering devotion to the sweet poet Sylvia.”

“Sylvia?  Poor rat bastard!  First Emily, then Elizabeth, then Gwendolyn and Anais…now Sylvia!  Poor lovesick bastard!”

Ginsburg howls a mantra at Shakespeare before heading up the aisle:

        The weight of the world is love.

        Under the burden of solitude…the weight, the weight we carry is love…

       “Carry on then, Billy!” 

Ginsburg grunts as he laboriously bends over to pocket some loose Oxford commas and unnecessary exclamation points left discarded by the patrons.

He always likes to bring unused punctuation and an unopened bottle of wine to EE’s poker nights.

The odds of winning big at Five Card Stud are so much more lucrative than winning at love.

Sylvia sits cross-legged on top of a table, hunched over the lone copy of Ted Hughes’ work.

She rocks repetitively back and forth, obsessively rubbing her index finger raw over the same line:

         In the morning, they wore each other’s face…

         In the morning, they wore each other’s face…

        In the morning, they…

The scent of patchouli and boiled potatoes snaps her concentration.

He is here.

Shakespeare’s face flushes with anticipation as he offers Sylvia a spring bouquet of sonnets, words carefully plucked at pre-bloom and delicately arranged just so.

“Did my heart love till now?  For I never saw true beauty till this night.”

With a barely discernible bow of the head, Shakespeare lays his literary arrangement on the table at Sylvia’s knees.

The unexpected action startles Sylvia out of her compulsion.

She begins to recite:

         I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

        I lift my lids and all is born again.

        (I think I made you up inside my head).

It is such an extreme Mad Girl Love Song.

Sylvia stares directly at Shakespeare and repeats the passage – one of her eyes is wide open this time, while the other is shut in a tragic wink.

Does it mean she, in fact, reciprocates his love?

Shakespeare is more enamored than ever now.

He gets down on his knees and pines like Romeo – he jumps to his feet and bellows like Petruchio – he spins and cavorts like Don Pedro at the ball.

Slipping unnoticed off the table, Sylvia pads down the aisle in her stockinged feet.

She really prefers her own drama, thank you.

Soon she is sipping wine right out of the bottle while sitting on Ginsburg’s massive lap.

Soon she is dangling apostrophes off Cummings’ earlobes and pulling in all the poker chips after winning a hand.

Tragedy becomes her in a way.

“Good night, good night.  Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say good night till it be morrow.”

Shakespeare blows a kiss at the empty spot on the table where Sylvia once sat.

Only the skeletal spine of the Ted Hughes’ paperback remains.

Rushing over to the reference desk, Shakespeare reaches behind the counter and brings forth a large pair of scisssors.

“What light through yonder window shines.”

He runs with scissors to his favorite desk by the window, the one always bathed in moonlight, and begins to carve.

A jagged line obliterates the proclamation:  “Shakespeare hearts Anais.”

It is lovingly replaced by the wonderful cursive:  “Shakespeare hearts Sylvia.”

Dead poets should never be locked in the library together overnight.

Copyright 2010

2 thoughts on “808.1

  1. pockets loose Oxford commas and unnecessary exclaimation points…love that line!
    I think sometimes (it’s true, I do think sometimes) there should be explanation points.
    Why do you think Shakespeare was gay? Did I miss something?

    1. Do some research on that one, Ranga. There are thoughts. But, hey, even I (who am not really a “writer”) know that writers can do a piece on something and everyone else thinks it’s real or from experience.

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