Burning Books

by Melody Sumner Carnahan


IN ANOTHER LIFE he championed the good, the bad, and the money. In another life he kept all that he knew to himself. In another life he observed that betrayal is the cleverest thing some people can come up with. In another life he figured out exactly how it works.

In another life he wrote poetry suitable for bridal ears. In another life he prided himself on being something of a jerk.

In another life he was part of a beautiful, trendy couple about whom it was said: “Everything on their faces and their bodies is precisely the right size.”

In another life he was only a year-and-a-half years old when he died.

In another life his ambition dissolved in alcohol. In another life he was addicted to creation: No sacrifice too high for the perfecting of one more piece, one more work, one more great idea. In another life his greatness, lasting millennia, was wrenched from the ordinary at unreasonable cost to his soul.

After that, he passed several lives in safe “near-life” experiences.

Later, his patience was matched by his confidence. He was happy as a peasant, but somewhere near the end he began to lust for the lonely extremes of freedom wealth provides.

He did nothing by halves.
He discovered cruelty.
He experienced the woes of the upperdog.
His face was grieved by an impermeable smile.
He squared the circle from inside the Oval Office.
Thereafter he was forced to obey the command: Do As I Say.

In the next life he was his own and only mate. He grew the world’s largest pumpkin. 829 pounds.

In one life, as a minister of a religious order, he observed special practices. In the process he devised a method for changing water into whiskey. Then he got into crime. After that he practiced being indirect. Then he had the pay-off paid off and was universally accepted as the “coolest dude in the motherfucking world.”

In another life he realized that the sex act is an act of mercy. He was of great service to untold women throughout that life.

In another life he failed miserably at everything, having only his own innocence to blame. He discovered that whatever you love too much will kill you.

Suddenly, all hell broke loose very slowly. He triumphed the secret life in defiance of his Puritan heritage. He was on the wrong side of the law but on the right side of history.

Then, he was in a funny mood for one whole life.

From One Inch Equals Twenty-Five Miles © 2004 Melody Sumner Carnahan / Burning Books