Ocean State Job Lot

By Stephanie Burt

No one is going to make
much more of this stuff now, or ever again.

Graceless in defeat
but beautiful, harmless and sad
on shelves that overlap like continents,

these Cookie Monster magnets, miniature
monster trucks, scuffed multiple Elmos, banners

that say NO FEAR
and A GRILL FOR EVERY BOY
are a feast for every sense.

Some would be bad manners
to give or bring home-

so many pounds of oysters, so many gallons of franks and beans…
It is a sea
that we discover out here,

where every piece of evidence
has a notional price and a buyer, and we find out our own
among its premises:

a hundred cans of pepper relish shaped
like lobster pots,
a big glass pickle meant to keep coins in,

a gleaming square whose effervescent
label promises
the taste of the Atlantic in a tin.


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