Tuesday, October 05, 2004

A Corollary of This Golden Age...

Come to think of it, garage sales are such a such a prominent feature of North American life there must be a garage sale literature.... What a fertile subject! What a way to meditate on use, misuse, superfluity, the passage of time … it has all the elements of still life, Van Gogh's shoes… here you're free to include any of what Bly refers to as "the hundred thousand objects of modern life" (which his poems carefully exclude…to his credit at least as much as discredit…)

To me the most memorable piece on garage sales has to be not a poem or short story of novel, but a song. But so close to a poem it is… Tom Waits' Soldier's Things on the Swordfishtrombones album. (That has to be one of my favourite albums, ever, not to mention one of my favourite bits of songwriting...) Here are the lyrics, devoid of course of the expressiveness of Waits' rust-bucket voice:

Davenports and kettledrums
and swallow tail coats
table cloths and patent leather shoes
bathing suits and bowling balls
and clarinets and rings…
and all this radio really needs
is a fuse

a tinker, a tailor
a soldier's things
his rifle, his books full of rocks
and this one is for bravery
and this one is for me
and everything's a dollar
in this box…

Cuff links and hub caps
trophies and paperbacks
it's good transportation
but the brakes aren't so hot
necktie and boxing gloves
this jackknife is rusted
you can pound that dent out
on the hood

a tinker, a tailor etc.

If any of you readers out there can think of a great piece of garage sale literature, tell me what it is, send it (especially if it's a poem) along… if not, maybe you can write one yourself!

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