I haven’t just been buying used books for all these years –
There are occasional bonus messages inside their front covers.
Some are perfunctory, like a coyote marking its territory:
A name, a phone number, a dorm, a date.
I’ve found a few with noted names,
Like a state governor from his student days
Or a noted diplomatic historian.

The books are mine now, bought for a song,
And for different reasons some will make me smile.
There are those used books that show no sign of use – how ironic;
And those paperbacks with ex libris stamped within – how pretentious.

And then there is the one with Chinese characters
Hand-written like runes within a book of translations.

And then there’s the gift inscription:
“Dear Ralph, This book can show very little
Of my gratitude towards our friendship.
I hope and wish our friendship will
Last as long as we live. Juanita.”

I got that one for a dollar.