Theft of Books – Poem

They’re dropped into a rucksack,

They’re snug inside a parka jacket’s false lining,

They’re tucked between the pages of a newspaper,

Or smuggled out beneath a cap.


They’re slipped in the pockets of baggy trousers,

They’re put down each leg like a postman’s sack,

They’re glided down a sock like a shin pad,

Or placed inside a slip-on shoe.


They’re put inside a magazine, the one you get for free,

Kicked beneath the sensor accidentally,

Handed to a friend who stands by the exit,

Left in a rubbish bin to collect at six.


They’re wrapped inside a baby’s cot,

Soft in the mouth of a pet dog,

They’re stowed up each sleeve,

Packed away in threes,

Condensed, contracted, compacted,

Or they’re just walked out with.


They’re dropped out of windows,

Wrapped up in paper bags,

Flipped out of fire escapes,

Forced into someone’s trap.


They’re cleaned out in shelf fulls,

They’re ripped off in millions,

They’re taken out in mouthfuls,

Fleeced and filched in armfuls.

They’re snatched, grabbed,

Spirited away in dribs and drabs,

And they’ll never come back.


First published Helicon XII, March 1998