I come in dere lookin’ for some fine Joseph Conrad
Just to let da clerk know I got a brain in my doo-rag.
He tells me all they gots is just a flawed Lord Jim
I say no thanks I’d rather buy Kipling’s Kim.
I likes to find books that has gots some errata
Especially if the owner ain’t yet picked up on the data
Like a misspelled word on the cover of a novel,
Such as Girl With a Pearl “Earing”—that’ll really make me grovel.
Sometimes I try to deke ‘em like I wants a reading copy
or an Oscar Wilde biography that’s lookin’ kinda foppy.
Then I pounce when I spy Mailer’s Naked and the Dead
That they bought from the estate of some old guy whose name was Fred.
They don’t even know yet dat dey got a first edition–
They checkin’ bags of students who will steal without contrition.
So me I just peruse while the friskin’s going down
Then amble to the counter of the finest store downtown.
I acts real innocent, as I’m about to score
A Raymond Chandler Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye or more
I stick it twixt some magazines, a Peanuts book and comics
And a high school physics books ‘bout particles atomic.
I get some grim bluestocking in horned rimmed glasses
Who when she ain’t workin’ is probably takin’ classes
In French absurdist drama, she don’t know my Holy Grail
Or so I think but then she blinks and says “It’s not for sale.”