New York: James A. Carr & Robert A. Wilson, 1964. First edition. 8vo, 72pp, printed on watermarked paper and bound in leatherette stamped in gilt at the spine; yellow silk bookmark sewn in. In the original unprinted glassine wrapper. One of 12 presentation copies, with a holograph poem bound in, signed by Wieners and both publishers. With a tls from Robert Wilson also laid in.
The manuscript page has the poem “Two Years Later” written out in Wiener’s hand and bound in. This poem is the concluding poem of the book on page 71 of the printed text, and in this copy the lower right hand corner of the page is burnt away.
The letter from Wilson is written “to certify that the small cigarette burn in the lower right corner of page 71 of Ace of Pentacles is ‘Auhtorial’ i.e. caused by John Wieners when signing the twelve presentation copies.” (The spelling of Auhtorial is likely not a misspelling, but is probably Bob quoting Wiener’s fabulous accent – perhaps as he rational- ized the burn).
The only other example of the 12 presentation copies we’ve seen didn’t have the burn mark, which leads us
to believe that the burn is likely unique to this copy.
“Two Years Later” begins with the lines “The hollow eyes of shock remain / Electric Sockets burnt out in the skull”. I’ve always thought that these lines might refer to electroshock therapy, which Wieners experienced in the time between the publication of his first book and this, his second.
With the book in hand it is difficult not to imagine the scene as John opened the page to the printed poem in order to copy it out in his hand, a cigarette dangling from his fingers – the burn perhaps a mark of forgetfulness as his hands became absorbed once again in the lines of the poem. Item #23162