A Few Things at the Hardware Store

Left at the registers

  past Paint and Stains

    to Aisle 6.

Fastener type


    Screw type

      Size and length

        Head style

          Drive type

There it is—

  the drawer,

    the box,

      the Stainless Steel


          Philips Head


              #10 2-1/4”

                Wood Screw.

Refer to the top inside of the lid,

  then hand to pocket,

    and a quick check

      against the screw from home.

Count out 20,

  and recount

    (“measure twice”)

      then cascade


          #10 2-1/4”


              Philips head

                stainless steel

                  wood screws

                into a paper bag,

              and fold the top over.

Tear a cashier’s slip,

  find the pen,

    and print out





              and quantity.


  past Paint and Stains,

    to the register,

      to wait in line.

Bag and slip on the counter

  for Donna

    and her inspection.

Hand to bag

  and a quick series of oscillations

    from slip

      to keyboard

        to screen,


            to keyboard

              to screen,


                  to keyboard

                    to screen,

                  pecking out





        and quantity.

“Yes, that’s all…”

  “Yes, can I enter a number…”

    “No, I can manage…”

      “Thanks, you too…”

A rite

  a ritual

    a rhythm.

As relished

  as it is dreaded,

    as averted

      as it is inevitable.

No intrusion

  of efficiency,

    nothing streamlined

      or express.

It’s a shuffling



      this Saturday


It’s as small-town

  as Mellencamp,

    and familiar

      as a furrow.

It’s as manish

  as Duchamp’s fountain.

    and modern

      as Port William.

It’s like

  any man’s errand

    in any small store

      in any small town

        in any and every state.

It’s like almost

  everything ordinary

      and unlike exactly

        anything else in the world.

December 26, 2020

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