Gas Giant (2020)
Poems by Marie Poonawala

The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House paid a recent visit to the Portable Library. We sought a specific document and suspected that inquiries into any lesser library would prove unsuccessful. Therefore, we started with an institution possessed of a reputation for housing a collection of works that is supposedly second to none.

We were immediately directed to the head librarian, Hong Samud himself, who, after a rather perfunctory welcome, claimed not to have heard of the work, Gas Giant. "Is it a discussion of planetary astronomy?" he asked.

We quickly set him straight on the nature of the work. "Poetry." Although we did not intend to provoke him, we added as a disclaimer, "You may not have it here; it was, to our knowledge, never widely circulated."

A look of mild perturbation crossed Old Hong's face. "That sort of book," he said, "happens to be our speciality." Despite his initial confidence, we spent several fruitless hours wandering from one reading room to another looking for the book. "What did you say the author's occupation was?" he asked at one point, when we feared he might become flustered.

"We understand that she had multiple positions at various points in her life, among which she was reputedly trained as a librarian."

"Why didn't you say so in the beginning?" said Old Hong, as if we had intentionally left out the most salient piece of information.

We followed passively behind the shuffling librarian as he continued the search. Time passed in the nondescript way that is characteristic of the Portable Library. We circled the seemingly infinite spiraling central corridor more times than could be counted, slowly ascending the stacks to the rarefied collections. In one room lined, much like all the others, with shelves bearing neat regiments of books with nary a gap between them, Hong exclaimed, "Ah! I thought so." He pulled a narrow envelope from between two books (one of them a romance novel) that seemed to have no relation to each other, nor to the work now in Hong's hands. "You neglected to mention its unconventional binding." His look softened only a little when we admitted that we had not, up to this point, been aware of that fact.

The librarian then left us at a reading table to peruse the poems at our leisure. He unnecessarily admonished us to treat it with the respect due any book and to leave it on the table when we were finished so that it might be properly reshelved by a librarian. Because Gas Giant was somewhat difficult to find, we made a concerted effort to document its existence and to summarize its contents. An admittedly incomplete description is provided below.


Gas Giant is bound in a paperboard envelope, that unfolds in three panels. To the center panel, a postcard bearing the title, author and cover image is glued. From the interior pocket, a total of ten postcards can be found. Each card bears on its front an image corresponding, in some cases directly and in others less so, to the contents of the poem, printed on the reverse side. The titles of the ten poems are reproduced below in the same order in which they were arranged when we found them.

  • Appendix G
  • The Gap
  • Light passes
  • Observatory
  • Bill (EPA Region VII)
  • Ray
  • Elizabeth (Valediction)
  • Semispinalis Capitis
  • Delivery
  • Cassie
If this were a proper review, we would provide a commentary on the literary style as well as on the recurring themes and motifs in the poems. However, we are inclined to abdicate this responsibility as we don't feel any particular competency with regard to adequately characterizing the work in a way that would satisfy the reader of this review or would present our skills at literary criticism in a favorable light. Instead, we opt for the objective approach of a documentary and simply provide three examples from Gas Giant.


Appendix G


Light passes


Semispinalis Capitis


Parting Notes:
In collaboration with the author, a few reproductions of Gas Giant remain available. Inquiries should be directed to Ms. Hebeloma Crustuliniforme, editor of the Poison Pie Publishing House at the following address.