Sunday Morning Garage Sales–a poem

Back before kids and before we had too much stuff, my wife and I enjoyed our fair share of garage sales during our holidays. We might camp the first part of spring break and then scour the Thursday and Friday papers for “moving sale–make an offer,” “clothing half-price,” “and “everything must go!” These days, we have friends who travel to far away cites to shop till they drop, but back in graduate school, when we were lucky to have a roll of quarters, 7 dimes, and two dollars in nickels, a weekend garage sale-ing was our poor-man’s trip to Dillards. Saturday was always the big day, but back in the day garage sales were weekend events. We might hit a variety of sales on Saturday, making notes in the newspaper, and return on Sunday looking for slashed prices, preying on the desperate desire to move the merchandise.

Like the large discount supers-store, garage sales have always struck me as a quintessentially American form of commerce and trade. On the one hand, we are a nation prone to waste, filling garbage pales with uneaten food, partially used pens, and barely worn clothes. Yet, every weekend, we also see the budding entrepreneurial spirit that makes our country so interesting as we try to recoup the costs for all those items we thought might help us keep up with the Jones’s. The essential becomes expendable.

Either way, a while back I wrote the poem below after driving by one such driveway filled with both economic hope and the corresponding despair. I had recently read Wallace Steven’s “Sunday Morning,” a poem that captures the difficult relationship American’s have with religion, nature, and our sense of independence. I hoped, as I was writing, that stealing some of Steven’s words would help the poem. Either way, as we wind down our spring break here and the weather turns warm and sunny, I sometimes miss those days trolling through our neighbors’ cast-offs, searching for that one “thing” that might make the day complete.

Sunday Morning Garage Sales

Complacency has no
place on Sunday morning.
Yesterday’s clothes
pulled on, there will be
time enough at noon
to clean. Coffee
strategically situated
mid-thigh, danger be
damned, donut devoured,
sugary finger trolling the
page looking for
nothing in particular
except a better deal than
Walmart specials–
close-out
prices on the neighbor’s
driveway. Church bells
ring, evoking some
pale remembered
tradition, replaced
by bargain shoppers–
pockets lined with coins,
small bills, dreams of the
Antique Road Show:
“I bought this at a
garage sale early one
Sunday morning for 2.50.
They had it marked 3 but
I talked them down. I sure
hope they’re not watching.”
Smiling. Comfortable with the
mysteries of junk
commerce:
Someone else’s
treasure consigned
to the concrete bargain bin.

At each stop: brakes screech,
doors fly open in
unambiguous undulations
as tired eyes watch,
prepared to
make a deal with
whatever devil arrives
just so the day ends
with a clean slate,
counting green-backs
as the whispered
wonderings of
Sunday morning linger.

Advertisements

About John Wegner
John Wegner is a Professor of English where he also serves as the Dean of the Freshman College. He and Lana, his wife, have been married over 25 years. They are the parents of two great sons who (so far) haven't ever needed bail money.

One Response to Sunday Morning Garage Sales–a poem

  1. Eve says:

    Waxing poetic 2 days in a row?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Things I Read

And Things I Learned

Washington Monthly

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Joanne Jacobs

Thinking and Linking by Joanne Jacobs

Inside Higher Ed

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

FiveThirtyEight

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Balloon Juice

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Scott Adams' Blog

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

%d bloggers like this: