hardware store literature / poetry

Recent additions on this page include
Ela Barton, Hardware Store,
Matthew Brennan, Resurrection,
Averill Curdy, Hardware,
R. J. Rice, I’m a Hardware Man,
R. T. Smith, Hardware Sparrows and
Henry Taylor, In Another’s Hands

John McVey
6 October 2012

  1. Anonymous.

    I like the man-smell of a hardware store :
    odors of old leather,
    fresh-cut lumber, oiled machines,
    limey smell of plaster and new paint

    This poem hangs on a back wall at the Moody’s Hardware Store on South Decatur Street, Montgomery, Alabama. The author is a woman, for whom the old familiar smells bring the memory of someone back powerfully.

    The poem commences a paean to Moody’s, by Kate and Stephen, in the Midtown Mongomery Living blog, posted 21 May 2010. The whole can be found here (as of 21 December 2010); it appears that Moody’s is (or will soon be) no more.

  2. Edward Anthony. A Hardware Romance.
    (illustrated by R. M. Brinkerhoff, in Harper’s Magazine, May 1921).

    anthony_edward_hardware_romance_808_580w330h.jpg illustration by R. M. Brinkerhoff

    Luella Loranna O’Shaughnessy Firth
    Is a clerk in a hardware store,
    Where she sells pots and dishes and bowls for goldfishes,
    And dozens of articles more,

    Like mouse traps and razors and skillets and bolts,
    Shovels and wrenches and forks,
    Harrows and hillers, potato-bug killers,
    Pump handles and beer-bottle corks.

    (The enumeration of which you may think
    Decidedly needless and queer,
    But I don’t agree, for it seems to me
    That a poem needs Atmosphere.)

    Ricardo Persimmons O’Callaghan Wright
    Is the utterly sprucest of males.
    He enters the place for to purchase a case
    Of unbendable handmade nails.

    (Either that or a ball of unknotable twine,
    Or a saw or a barrel of pitch —
    Or was it an ax or a package of tacks?
    I've completely forgotten which.)

    Be that as it may, he enters the store
    that I am perfectly sure),
    And his heart is gone when he gazes upon
    That sweetest of maids, the demure

    Luella Loranna O’Shaughnessy Firth,
    The most beautiful hardware clerk
    He ever has met, an engaging brunette
    With a smile (or is it a smirk?)

    That has the effect, as I’ve hinted before,
    Of setting Ricardo awhirl
    (As sometimes occurs when a maiden purrs),
    And soon he is telling the girl

    Of his Prospects in Life, and his Favorite Book,
    And his Love for Beautiful Things,
    While Luella smiles and the time beguiles
    With dreaming of solitaire rings.

    — followed by eight more quatrains, in which love, helped by money, prevails over Orlando Themistocles Perkins O’Day, the vexatious boss of the hardware store. Here is a first (alphabetically, by author) of many instances in which hardware stores satisfy the poetic need for lists !

    An Edward Anthony (1895-1971) is treated by wikipedia here. R(obert). M(oore). Brinkerhoff (1880-1958) is treated here; see also these examples provided by the University of Toledo in its Digital Resource Commons.

  3. Catherine Barnett. A Brief Poetics of the Hinge.
    (enewsletter, The University of Arizona Poetry Center, September 2008. Not poetry, but close —

    A few summers ago I got it into my head that I to build a physical model of a poem that would show the way a poem can move, can resist closure. The image of a hinge kept coming to mind. I found myself in various hardware stores, trying to locate in the physical world an example of the kind of hinge I think of when I write, revise and read poems...

    Author of Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced, Alice James Books, 2004 (described here)

  4. Ela Barton, Hardware Store..

    Posted at the author's poetry blog, Weblog of a Rookie Poet, September 17, 2012, and reproduced below with the author’s gracious permission.

    I’m at the hardware store.
    and I know that I am not supposed to be here.

    The men that are supposed to be here
    have sawdust leaking from their pores, paint
    stains on their pants and buy
    beef jerky and drink mountain dew
    and build decks in their backyards on Sundays.

    They cannot bring themselves to describe me as a lesbian.
    Because lesbians are characters in pornos, look good in
    skirts, have rapunzel hair and are pleading to be saved,
    the dyke that just walked in does not really exist.

    They cannot make their mouths cave in to call me woman.
    Because why would a woman strap down their breasts like that?
    Look awkward and full in shirts made for strong shoulders
    narrowing torsos. A woman, a real woman doesn’t look like that.

    Until they realize that it just might be true. That female
    parts might still be hiding under these size 40 jeans. That I am
    nothing but a pseudo she, a deformation of woman and man.

    do you know what it feels like to walk an aisle of eyes that
    are disgusted, scared and pity you?

    do you know what it takes to be the woman that mothers pray their children don’t become?

    A man is eyeing me in the lumber department. I can see
    his macho swell in my direction, he does not know why
    and neither do I but he has to let me know that he is a man...
    He’ll offer his help for no good reason, need 100 times the amount
    of the product I want, scowl in my direction if I reach for it first.

    He needs me to know that he is a man, and I am not.

    I’ve seen this before. In the way straight men hug my wife.
    wrapping testostorone forearms and biceps around her slender
    curvy frame, pressing their investments against her breasts,
    just in case she changes her mind about herself

    and then they look at me...

    bother up the nerve to give me their side, adequate space for
    such a waste of woman, they hold me; roach in a tissue,
    hoping to throw me away soon.

    I know that I am a mother’s cringe when daughters want to play softball,
    the uneasy in your boyfriend when you use clippers on your hair, I am
    the request for admission on ladies night at the bar.

    but I am not the blood sprayed across a smashed windshield, so please stop staring.
    I am not sorry for who I am, so don’t pray for my forgiveness.
    I am not the bible, so do not go preaching your understanding to anyone that will listen.
    Do not call me sir or ma’am unless you’d like me to top you.
    You are not my wife, so please stop trying to decipher me.

    We are so bloated with arrogance
    We have forgotten that human is a taxonomic rank.
    So selfish that we only believe in you or me.

    I am at the hardware store.
    and I know that it has taken me years to get here.
    I can only hope that the men that are supposed to be here
    will get here soon.

  5. Elizabeth Kirkley Best. Hardware Store at Christmas.
    (2005, accessed 20 April 2010) —

    Do the hinges, bolts, nails sing
    Of days when Christmas was new?

  6. Pat Borthwick.

    In Praise of Hardware Stores

    I love the way they step outside to greet you
    waving their long-handled bristle brooms
    and yellow plastic dustpans, their sack barrows
    and lightweight extending ladders.
    They occupy the pavement,
    edge towards the butcher’s next door
    as if eager to count his chops
    or pluck his hung capons.
    I swear the clothes props and guttering,
    the companion sets and mops
    are trying to cross the road.

    Strung around the doorframe
    are clusters of gleaming pans
    like droops of fruit on a vine
    and if they let you through
    you’re in a grotto with stalactites
    and stalagmites, towers of stacking bowls
    and buckets, linoleum rolls, stainless steel,
    crystal glass, Pyrex, chrome and brass,
    galvanized iron and Teflon.

    And oh, the sweetness of their breath —
    a mingle of beeswax and paint,
    Nitromors and paraffin, creosote and rope.

    There’s rows of tiny cup-handled drawers
    filled with every type and size of screw and nail,
    hook and hinge and curtain track end,
    oddments you can buy one of, or two gross
    and, camouflaged among it all,
    is the man who knows where everything is kept
    because he loves each single item
    as if it were part of his own bloodline.

    What more is there to do in life
    but help solve each other’s problems,
    to put into someone else’s hand
    across the polished counter top
    something to make their life
    glide by more smoothly? Or in one breath
    raise the subject of the price of bread,
    the race to reach beyond the Universe?

    Presented above with the kind permission of the author, in the north of England, who loves hardware stores and chandlers, school art stock cupboards, and allotment sheds. The poem won Third Prize in the Troubador Poetry Prize, 2008. Details here, and poet’s website here

  7. Matthew Brennan. Resurrection, in The Music of Exile (Cloverdale Books, 1994): 44; originally published in New Mexico Humanities Review 34 (1991): 94.

    My job these days is to cut lumber
    at the Ace Hardware store. Often, too,
    I do the inventory. It’s then
    when the past can come back, and I
    need to go home, build a small fire,
    and watch the logs go up in smoke,
    dead trees transformed into something else.
    In Nam, my job was to bring back
    the bodies on flatbed trucks, stacked
    in rows like cords of wood. Sometimes,
    if a mine blew up in a muddy
    rice field where five men had
    crouched in soupy water, blood would
    flood them like a bouillabaisse—we’d
    fish out what we could. But once
    when a ship got bombed off harbor
    in waves clear as a bathroom mirror, I went
    down to count the dead, then sent them
    upwards, one by one, like balloons
    let go, allowed at last to rise
    in the light like motes of yellow dust.

    Presented here with permission of author, and with thanks to David Vancil for bringing this poem to my attention. Brennan is the author of several books of poetry; faculty profile (and list of publications) here.

  8. Joe Clark. A Few Grains of Corn from the General Store.
    Lynchburg (Tennessee): Lynchburg Hardware and General Store, 1972

    Doggerel verse, Tennessee poems and pictures by the Hillbilly Snap Shooter. 28 unnumbered pages. some nice photographs, probably sepia duotones.

    Tool photos: shoeing a horse, sharpening what seems to be a saw.

  9. Averill Curdy. Hardware appeared in Poetry (June 2009), and here.

    You lean disconsolate on your stool,
                                                      Sullen and certain

    As minor royalty rusticated to this
    Unhelpful climate of solvents, gaskets, pliers, and bolts.

    Because they are new and manifold and useful

    You feel their whispers against you. The staunch
    Resistance of objects...

    It strikes me that those solvents, gaskets, pliers, and bolts may be not only exterior, but interior components of our vulgar flesh.

    Bio here. An interview (at Gapers Block, 14 December 2006) here.

  10. James Dickey (1923-1997). Two Poems of Going Home, (1) Living There and (2) Looking for the Buckhead Boys.
    The poem appeared in The Eye-Beaters, Blood, Victory, Madness, Buckhead and Mercy (1970, and can be found in The Whole Motion: Collected Poems here.

    It’s in Looking for the Buckhead Boys that the narrator bethinks himself to inquire among some merchants, after all, Hardware and Hardware Merchants / Never die, and they have everything on hand / There is to know. Somewhere in the wood-screws Mr. Hamby may have / My Prodigal’s Crown on sale.

    The boys the narrator knew have gone every which way, some away most not, some dead of heart attack or war, and Charlie Gates at the Gulf station.

    Wikipedia offers concise account, and good links, here. I’d never read anything by or about Dickey, until now (1 June 2010). Whew.

  11. Lynn Doiron. O! Hardware Store!.
    At Poetry Circle (March 21, 2009)

    ...I want to open all the fifty-pound bags of peat moss
    to build a ski jump from cinder blocks and pink insulation
    that Olympians will carry a torch just to see.

    I may not do this. I may leave the store
    with a braided cable of cement dust and paint
    vermiculite beads...

    Poet’s website, blog and book (Hand Wording, 2006) at/via lynndoiron.com.

  12. Marie Etienne (1942- ). King of a Hundred Horsemen.
    Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002

    In the section Journal de guerre (War Diary), part 30 January, this — No one writes poetry any longer, bric-a-brac in an old hardware store. / What credence can be granted to words following each other, how can they still be thought possible?

    The translator’s decision to render vieux droguiste as an old hardware store strikes me as right. An old hardware store, of old disconnected things, that need assemblage into an utterance to breathe life into them. Aphoristic moments punctuate these 99 sonnets in 9 sections. In part 33 — Precision which turns, which ponders and which sings. / No rumination. Inflections and refrains. / The sentence rather than the line.

    Journal de guerre can be found, in English and French, here in Babel, the online journal of ICORN International Cities of Refuge Network, Spring 2007. The passage is cited by at least two reviews : here and here.

  13. Bob Flanagan (1952-1996). Why.

    because hardware stores give me hard-ons;
    because of hammers, nails, clothespins, wood, padlocks, pullies, eyebolts, thumbtacks, staple-guns, sewing needles, wooden spoons, fishing tackle, chains, metal rulers, rubber tubing, spatulas, rope, twine, C-clamps, S-hooks, razor blades, scissors, tweezers, knives, pushpins, two-by-fours, Ping-Pong paddles, alligator clips, duct tape, broomsticks, barbecue skewers, bungie cords, sawhorses, soldering irons;
    because of tool sheds;
    because of garages;
    because of basements;

    Powerful, beautiful poem. Appears to be in the movie SICK: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (Kirby Dick, dir., 1997) (more here).

    The text is available here and there, by searching for a random selection of the above (in quotation marks). Flanagan’s telling is the best, and to be found on YouTube, e.g., here.

    Nails (including a bed of nails) and hardware stuff appear in much of Flanagan’s life and work, which I’ve only recently stumbled onto. He lived with cystic fibrosis for many years; now I know something about what it is. Flanagan was a poet, performance artist, musician, author, thinker. See his books, and the Flanagan page at wikipedia.

  14. Jean Follain (1903-1971). Hardware Store.

    Marilyn Hacker’s translation of this poem — Quincaillerie — is included in Mary Ann Caws, ed., The Yale Anthology of Twentieth-Century French Poetry (2004) here (translation at page 183, continues at 185).

    Concludes :
    So the hardware store floats toward eternity
    and sells, till everyone has got enough,
    great nails, in flames.

  15. Edward A Guest (1881-1959). Hardware Store Fascination.

    This 24-line poem encountered in the website of the Michigan Retail Hardware Association, here, with the note that the poem was delivered by Guest as key speaker at a hardware convention in Detroit.

    link no longer (20230324) works, but I see some lines at 19 Jan 1967 Issue of Jackson Progress Argus in Jackson, Georgia (paywall) : link

    excerpt —
    There is something about a hardware store
    Which, strangely, I can’t resist,
    And I think it’s the joys I have hungered for
    Which somehow my life has missed.

  16. Walter Hamady. Reminder 113 A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words 251
    In Neopostmodrnism, or, Dieser Rasen ist kein Hundeklo, or Gub2rzub2 number 6, or The incognita of Rita’s deep time coexisiting within central discoveries of the thermodynamic dichotomy of western thought: observed impregnant meanings & transhistorical justifications.
    Other Title: Neopostmodrnism, or, Gabberjabb; no. 6, or, Dieser Rasen ist kein Hundeklo, or, Gabberjab number 6, Mt Horeb, Wisconsin: Perishable Press, 1988

    What I take to be the title of the piece is the caption to this cut —

    hamady_hdwe_gabberjab6_1988_580w283h.jpg ex Gabberjab 6 (1988)

    To the right of the cut, and not shown above, is the figure 253. The point being, a thousand words about a hardware store, beginning thus:

    one (a two (picture three (is four (worth five (a six (thousand seven (words eight (and nine (they ten (all eleven (have twelve...

    and concluding thus :

    ...Hamady Hardware [was] located on Corunna Road in Flint comma Michigan after I was expelled from the Cranbrook School for Boys long dash here actually comma it was there before built by my dad and sold to my Oncle Sam § but Walter worked there after school (who the hell laid in this Çãßé!?) and on saturdays period Oh! the Idyllic halcyon 1027 days of youth long dash I am still here with Harold comma Alex comma Alice and Franny in my forty Ford coupe with frenched headlights comma punched hood comma etc comma comma, comma c’mon

    Alas, there’s no where to point to, the book is vanishingly scarce... well, except transcript of the colophon and an image or two from this 102-page volume, provided by the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections, best accessed via a fresh search for gabberjab or hamady, walter here, and too this excerpt from Mary Hamady a line in her Lebanese Mountain Cookery (David R. Godine, 1995) about wash tubs brought along from Hamady Hardware in Flint.

    Thanks AMJ for this lead!

  17. Barbara Hamby. Ode to Hardware Stores.
    In Babel (described here : University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004)

    Where have all the hardware stores gone — dusty, sixty-watt
            warrens with the wood floors, cracked linoleum,
    poured concrete painted blood red?

    or this, closer to home —

                                        flat-headed as Floyd Crawford,
    who lived next door to you for years but would never say hi
            or make eye contact. What a career in hardware
    he could have had...

    Full text at Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac (as of 27 February 09); see also barbarahamby.com.

  18. Lyn Hejinian. The Guard.
    Berkeley: Tuumba Press, 1984. —

    It’s true, I like to go to the hardware store
    and browse on detail. So sociable the influence

    of Vuillard, so undying in disorder is order...

    this passage; or entire book

  19. Adam Houle. If There’s Nothing You Need,
    published July 7, 2009 at Linebreak, which publishes one poem a week, each Tuesday, and also publishes audio recordings of all poems. Click on author’s name for brief bio.

    I need the industry of things, flat heads
    heavy in a breast pocket, their points cut
    the bag...

  20. Vivien Jones. Hardware Shop.

    The poem is presented below, immediately following the photograph of the shopowner, both with the kind permission of the author, who owns the copyright and who writes — I was on an arts exchange to Kiltimagh, County Mayo last Spring and came across this gem of a shop...


    He’s playing the crowd, he’s charming, he knows it.
    The cameras flash on him,
    his cat in the window,
    curved in sleep on a box,
    is well practiced too.
    So many small drawers
    with small things
    in many sizes,
    as few as you want
    in a newspaper twist.
    Rat-traps on a string
    spiralling to the roof,
    beside the wooden stair
    that led to the upstairs bar,
    one of many in the street.

    So we gaze but do not buy,
    We have no skill that
    needs his precise stock,
    measured in imperial.
    Today he has sold a mousetrap
    and a bottle of white spirit,
    to a local woman who stood
    aside while we took his picture.

    Next year, like as not,
    his door, too, will be shut,
    soon to be a branch
    of something from Dublin,
    People will say Shame,
    and tell their grandchildren
    about the Hardware shop
    that used to sell nails
    in ones and twos,
    and had a cat that dozed
    in a curl on a cardboard box
    in the window.

    Hardware Shop is about to be published as a Kiltimagh set in the literary magazine The Eildon Tree (a Borders Council publication), and was shortlisted for the Virginia Wareby Award in July 2008. Information on Vivien Jones can be found here.

  21. Laura Kasischke. Hardware Store in a Town Without Men
    from Gardening in the Dark (Ausable Press, 2004, now (29 August 2010) available via Copper Canyon Press). The poem is one of several available via the Copper Canyon page, and is presented below with the kind permission of the author.

    Hardware Store in a Town Without Men

    I found myself in a story
    without suspense, only
    one deaf falcon circling deafly, and that
    wild college girl next door

    screaming at her mother on the phone.

    My heart, a golden lobster, a star
    in a grave, some
    hot blood running underground . . .

    and all my early daydreams loosed
    like termites in the walls
    of some deserted church.

    Oh, I recognized my agony right away.
    The howling dog of daylight life, the years of lust
    had opened up
    a permanent inn for phantoms in my brain.

    Then, I turned forty.
    Every morning,

    sweeping out the shadows
    from the cobwebbed corners, raking
    the leaves from the gutters,
    the hair from the drains . . .

    And sleep, the sweet
    rolling water of its e’s.
    A stroll through the beautiful
    ruins of my own dreams.
    A hardware store
    in a town without men. Whole

    shelves devoted to wrenches, gleaming,

    and no reason
    to lock the door.

    No door.

    Kasische has published several books of poetry, as well as novels in which there are several passing mentions of hardware stores. An interview appeared in the Ann Arbor Chronicle here (27 September 2009).

  22. Weldon Kees (1914-1955?). Poet, whose father John Kees headed the F. D. Kees Manufacturing Company, makers of hooks, handles, cornhuskers, and other items of hardware. See Anthony Lane his The Disappearing Poet : What ever happened to Weldon Kees? in the 4 July 2005 number of The New Yorker, here.

  23. Nancy Keesing (1923-93). Old Hardware Store, Melbourne. 1977

    Being un-organic, non-macrobiotic, lazy
    I do not wish to return to the honest names
    Or the slow, outmoded, heavy, intractable objects
    As: mincers, mangles, mowers, mattocks, hames;
    Collars and saddles of horsehair-padded leather;
    Pots of cast and enamelled iron; hones
    For sharpening blades of shares, shears, scythes and sickles;
    Hafted axes; burrs and grinding stones.
              But I value verbs: to mill, till, harrow, harvest, burnish,
    Hew, strip, beat, toss, tether, render, comb,
    Roast, brew, knead, prove dough — one returns to bread,
    To meat, to bellies and bowels, to prick and womb —
    To bear, be born, to suck, piss, shit, to cry,
    To work, sweat, live, sing, love, pray, die.

    By arrangement with the licensor, The Estate of Nancy Keesing c/- Curtis Brown (Aust) Pty Ltd.

    The poem appeared in Keesing’s Hails and Farewells and other poems (Edwards & Shaw, Sydney, 1977), and is included in John Leonard, ed., Australian Verse: An Oxford Anthology (Oxford University Press, 1998). Archival material can be found via a finding aid of the Archive of Australian Judaica : scroll down to Nancy Keesing. Something too at wikipedia.

  24. Alice Kociemba. Death of Teaticket Hardware.

    I never knew his name,
    nor he mine.
    He was always there.
    Patient. Polite. Shy.

    I never knew the name of what I needed, either.
    But he did. After listening.
    You know that thingamajig
    that connects the hose to the washer.

    I need the innards of a lamp.

    He’d find it in a flash —
    through overcrowded aisles,
    so narrow only a munchkin could maneuver.
    In the back of the store, on the dusty top shelf
    where whatsits live.

    He’d tell me how to use it.
    And he’d tell me again,
    drawing it on the little scratch pad
    he kept at the register (not the electric kind)
    next to the dish of pennies
    and the bowl of lollipops.
    I would always leave with a red one,
          and confidence.

    He was the kindest man in town.

    I imagined he went home at 5:30 every night
    to the apartment above the store,
    and told his wife over meatloaf and mashed potatoes
    green beans and pecan pie:
    That lady came in again today, seems bright enough
    but doesn’t even know a lamp has a socket.

    And he’d smile, when she would say, Oh, Mrs. Dimwit.
    And they would turn on the News at Six.

    The drive to town is eerie now
    that Teaticket Hardware is gone.
    Boarded up windows stare like a zombie
    whose soul’s been stolen by Wal-Mart.

    Peter Cabral, son of John, son of Peter, son of John,
    I never said hello, or goodbye, or thank you.

    Death of Teaticket Hardware received an International Merit Award from the Atlanta Review in 2008. The author, with whose gracious permission the poem is presented here, writes: I am putting together a chapbook with this as the title poem, and have a picture (from Falmouth Historical Society) on the cover. Teaticket Hardware opened in 1925, and closed in 2005 (after Wal-Mart came to Falmouth).

    The book can be obtained from Jamaica Pond Poets, here.

  25. Valerie Lawson. Hardware Store.
    Dog Watch, Ragged Sky Press, 2007
    valerie-lawson.com (20230325)

    excerpt —

    On my last trip to that hardware store, I bought an electric saw,
    some drill bits, saw horse brackets, and a two ton floor jack.
    I don’t need these things every day, but I might.

  26. Gary Lechliter. Hell’s Hardware Store.
    Featured Poetry from Issue No. 26, Coal City Review ca 2009, here.

    extract —
    Nothing works right on anything.
    The screwdrivers, like the IRS,
    are driven to screw you over.
    Claw hammers have gothic
    thumbs that gouge your eyes.

    Kansas poet. A quick search turns up the author’s bio and an interesting profile by Amanda Sorell (April 27, 2009).

  27. Ada Limón.

    Two (funny) poems : After her Husband Left Her, She Went to Work at the Hardware Store, and Our Hero Watches the Lady at the Hardware Store Again and She Notices.

    Find them here (in coconut five (July 2006)), and in her collection This Big Fake World : A Story in Verse (Pearl Editions, 2006), which puts me in mind of John Berryman and Charles Bukowski. From the Amazon product description, this —
    a story that revolves around the book’s unlikely Hero, a man in a gray suit; the object of his affection, known only as The Hardware Store Lady; and his friend Lewis, the town drunk, who compulsively writes letters to Ronald Reagan.

    More here, including access to her blog.

  28. Elline Lipkin. Conversation with my Father (after Grimm's The Maiden Without Hands) here (archived poetry of The Journal of Mythic Arts).

    After we speak I go to the hardware store
    to decide on a drill, feel each black-packaged tool
    bristle with its will to do harm.

    Poem included in the author’s The Errant Thread (Kore Press, 2006), described here.

  29. Amy Lowell. The Landlady of the Whinton Inn Tells a Story.
    Poetry, A Magazine of Verse 11:4 (January 1918)

    Name of Steele
    George and Clif Steele.
    Between ’em, they owned that farm you seen,
    And a hardware store to Main Street.
    My father used ter say
    Nobody hereabouts thought they could cut a rakeful o’ hay
    Or split a log,
    Onless they’d bought the scythe, or the saw, or the sickle,
    To Steele’s.
    Funny name for a hardware store, warn’t it,
    But them things does happen...

    Click here to come directly to this passage, in this poem several pages long.

  30. Jane Mason. Nichols Hardware Sells...

    written by author in January 1970, when in Third Grade. Nichols Hardware in Lyme, New Hampshire, closed in 2005 (or 2006?), see the article (and poem) here.

  31. Dan Masterson. The Man Who Steals Thumbs,
    in On Earth as it Is : Poems. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978

    From the bus stop he goes straight
    to the closest hardware store;
    he likes hardware stores, always has;
    something to do with the iron and wood
    of the place: hinges, bolts, axe handles;
    nice to touch, to rub.

    Something about thumbs (see other poems in the sequence), mortality. Urgent.

    The poem (and the entire volume) can be found in the Contemporary American Poetry Archive here. Something about Masterson, who is/has been among other things a swimmer, here (being the finding aid for Masterson’s papers at Syracuse University). A Closer Look at Dan Masterson here.

  32. Phyllis McGinley. Please Lock the Hardware Store, or The Temptations of Oliver James.
    In A Pocketful of Wry. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1940.

    Oliver doesn’t guess the market or fling the dice, or drink or womanize, but he does buy hardware store gadgets that prove useless —

    ...the sliding rule or the gardener’s tool
    Or the guaranteed bottle stopper.

    A semi-revisionist assessment of McGinley by Ginia Bellafante appeared in the The New York Times Book Review here (28 December 2008).

  33. Pablo Neruda (1904-1973). Prologues: The House of Odes.
    In Neruda, Fifty Odes (translated by George D. Schade), Ponciá Vicencio, 1997

    ...I want everthing
    to have
    a handle,
    that all be
    a cup or tool,
    I want people to enter the hardware store
    through the doorway of my odes.

  34. Kenn Nesbitt. Andy Handy’s Hardware Store,
    in My Hippo has the Hiccups: And Other Poems I Totally Made Up. Illustrations by Ethan Long. Naperville (Illinois): Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2009

    Andy Handy’s hardware store
    sells things that no one needs;
    a doorknob for a doghouse door,
    a kit for growing weeds...

    Here (only one of two pages previewed).

  35. bpNichol

    PLAGIARIZED TEXT #1 (pataphysical hardware company)
    part of the bpNichol online archive.

  36. Sanford Pinsker. Note, Left on My Office Door.

    Like the small-town hardware store,
    This note on my door is just to say
    I have gone fishing
    For the summer...

    A sonnet to students, at the end of term. College English 40:8 (April 1979): 929, and here (jstor, for those with access).

  37. Robert Pinsky seems to like, and know about, hardware stores.

    Intimations of mortality in The Cold, where work — maybe — is protection against the draft, and a hardware store where, perhaps because of the time of day, it seemed all of the other customers were old... I think that someone talked about the weather.... The poem is in The Figured Wheel : New and Collected Poems, 1966-1996 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1996).

    And this, from Grace Cavalieri’s interiew with Pinsky in 1995-97 —

    I mean, Long Branch is the birthplace of many interesting people. There was a bunch of Jewish storekeepers in downtown Long Branch on Broadway and I think the grocery store was the Grocel’s, and they had a son who grew up to be Jeff Chandler and I think it was the hardware store where the son became Myer Abrahams, M. H. Abrams, the literary critic.

    And here he is, checking out light bulbs at Inman Square Hardware. (article by Kathleen Pierce in Boston Globe (10 October 2008).

  38. Jack Prelutsky. A Witch in a Hardware Store.
    In Prelutsky's My Dog May Be A Genius. HarperCollins Publishers, 2008

    Light verse, about a broom in a hardware store. Someone has posted it here.

  39. Tita Reut. Vis cachées (hidden screws). Avec deux gravures d’Arman et deux sérigraphies de César. Paris: La Différence, 1993

    Forty-four poems, each describing a different tool: Les Fourches de César ( ? ); Serpe (sickle); Niveau (level); Maillet (mallet); Perceuse (drill); Étau (vice); Pied de Biche (crowbar); Corde (rope); Tenaille (blacksmith's tongs); Ciseau (chisel); Crochet (hook); Râteau (rake); Compas (compass); Équerre (bracket); Dame (rammer, reamer ? ); Pioche (pickaxe); Coutre (wedge that precedes plow, cuts vertically into soil); Chevalet (easel); Échelle (ladder); Plume (feather); Règle (rule); Aigulle (needle); Enclume (anvil); Soufflet (bellows); Tamis (sieve); Crayon (pencil); Queue-de-rat (rat-tailed file); Dégauchisseuse (surface plane); Égoine (saw); Pointeau (center punch); Toupie (shaper); Vrille (corkscrew); Les Haches d’arman (hatchet); Tarabiscot (moulding plane); Diapason (tuning fork); Remington (typewriter); Treuil (winch); Téléphone (telephone); Traitement de Texte ( ? ); Pinceau (paint brush); Gomme (eraser); Pompe (pump); Couteau (knife); Presse (press) — all of these my poor and/or failed translations.

    Her method of describing these tools combines a careful scrutiny of their function and outward appearance... with a fanciful, clever metaphorization of each tool. ex John C. Stout his delightful The Revival of Still Life in Contemporary French Poetry: Paul Louis Rossi’s Cose naturali and Tita Reut’s Vis cachées. Sites: Journal of the Twentieth-Century/Contemporary French Studies 7:1 (Spring 2003) : 98-118

    Tita Reut at wikipedia : link

    Photo appears above I’m a Hardware Man, captioned thus: R. J. Rice in front of his new Hardware Store. The building was completed in 1911. (the other person unidentified.)

  40. Robert Jefferson Rice (1856-1923). Gems of Thought and Sentiment.
    Raymond (Illinois), 1977 (?)

    This volume is more fully described and contextualized here. I will seek to obtain permission to present some of Rice’s poetry here; the following is presented without permission, for now (19 June 2011).

    I’m a Hardware Man

    Lord, I’m but a hardware man,
    And I scribble with a pen,
    I rise and eat and toil and sleep,
    Like other hardware men.

    The controlling colors of my life,
    Are mostly DUNS and BLUES,
    Yet, on the whole I am content,
    And the fates I'll not abuse.

    So often when the balmy air,
    Floats in the scented night,
    Strange spirits whisper in my ear,
    And visions cross my sight.

    I do not pray to Thee for gold,
    For that is not worth while,
    All I ask is a breath of life,
    And a woman’s cheering smile.

    R. J. Rice / June 1, 1914

  41. Kim Roe. After Being Called Girlie at the Hardware Store.

    A Merit Award Winner in the Boynton Poetry Contest, Bellingham, Washington, in Spring 2010.

    I like to think of myself as a woman
    Who carries a knife, drives a dark
    One-ton diesel, scrappy stock dogs
    On the seat beside me...

    Here and on Youtube!

  42. Madelyn Rosenberg. Ayers.

    The man says, I am convinced I can find the holy grail in here
    if I look hard enough...

    Pretty good, about faith, somehow. The poem is located here (scroll down). Ayers Hardware is located in Arlington, Virginia, and is described here.

  43. Cynthia Rylant. Wax Lips.

    Chosen by Ted Kooser for American Life in Poetry, Column 101 here. The poem appared in Rylant’s collection Waiting to Waltz (2001).

  44. Larry Schug. Nail Poems.
    In Snakeskin 109 (December 2004) here and Snakeskin 124 (June 2006) here. More on Schug here.

    Nail Poem #92 starts thus —
    The hammer’s been to management school, where they teach the theory
    of keeping separate the job
    from the nail...

  45. Max Schwartz. In the afternon ov the fawn,
    being first line of untitled poem, typed on a sales slip/invoice of H. Schwartz Hardware. See at Poems-For-All, a great project of Richard Hansen in Sacramento California.

    The poem is not in any (obvious) way about or of hardware, but the presentation is great!

  46. R. T. Smith. Hardware Sparrows.
    In Smith’s Messages (Louisiana State University, 2001), and anthologized in Dylan Nelson and Kent Nelson, eds., Birds in the Hand: Fiction & Poetry about Birds (North Point Press (FSG), 2004).

    Setting is a Lowe’s, where sparrows have come for refuge from a week of storms —

              ... and yet they soar
    to offer, amid hardware, rope

    and handyman brochures,
    some relief, as if a flurry
    of notes from Mozart swirled...

    Full poem here. Wikipedia page on the author here

  47. Julia Story. Pretend Hardware Store,
    in Octopus Magazine 03. Magazine’s navigation doesn’t work well, but this link will land you directly to this poem, and three others below it, odd each, and good.

    Somewhere in the darkness
    is someone sorting. Sort of piling
    or maybe sort of stacking.

    More Story poems in Octopus Magazine 11, here.

  48. Patti Tana. The Hardware Store,
    in Poetrybay an on-line poetry magazine for the 21st century (Fall 2007), here.

    ...Presiding over this male domain, like a librarian who knows where to find your book among the myriad stacks, a man with white hair and plaid shirt...

    Takes an interesting turn. Author’s website here.

  49. Henry Taylor. In Another’s Hands.
    In Understanding Fiction: Poems 1986-1996 (LSU Press, 1996), presented here and in a Google preview here.

    The poem regards a complicated maneuver, and trust of another’s signals, in a hardware store parking lot. (There’s at least one other hardware store parking lot piece listed on this page.)

    See Janann Mercker’s paean The World’s Most Poetic Hardware Store? at the LeesburgPatch (May 13, 2011), and other material about Nichols here. Taylor’s books are listed at wikipedia.

  50. Troost Avenue (pseudonym). Hardware Store,
    posted November 9, 2009, at authspot.

    The poem concerns several generations of author’s family in (and finally out) of the hardware business, in a town called Rosemont, in Missouri (?). Twenty-three five-line stanzas. Descriptive. Writes at length about the shelves and what was on them, in boxes —

    Things more important to daily life were found on the lower shelves
    Wicks for lamps were still in need, and there were light bulbs of many kinds
    Nails too, smaller for common use, great spikes for when you need them
    Everything you’d ever need in the line of hardware
    I touched every one of them, and soon got hardware in my blood

    The poem is mostly a dwelling on, drawing out from memory, as if its author were turning over objects in his hands. Its conclusion aligns with my own sense about these things: the business is dispersed in an auction, and the poem ends thus —

    ...by the time I’d heard, everything was gone, the building just a shell
    The shelves had been disassembled, where they went I’ve never known
    I might have bought them, but what for, the hardware’s in my blood

  51. Ronald Wallace. Scroll or search down to Hardware.

    My Father always knew the secret name
    of everything
    stove bolt and wing nut...

    The poem is linked to the author’s own explication. His biography and other information can be found here.

  52. Susan Wheeler. Overtaxed Lament.
    in Wheeler, Ledger (University of Iowa Press, 2005)

    Won’t extract here, a poem that's interesting in the context of its book. Poet’s website here; good interview (by Robert Polito) here (Bomb 92 / Summer 2005).

  53. Nancy Willard. A Hardware Store as Proof of the Existence of God.
    Found in Willard, Swimming Lessons: New and Selected Poems (New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1996)

    Widely available on the Internet.

  54. and these —

    The Intuflo hardware store at 186 Columbus Avenue near 68th Street holds poetry readings among the tools and vacuum cleaner bags because its owner is said to like poetry and wants to increase patronage. Attendance entitles an audience member to a 5 percent discount on a purchase.

    Joseph Berger, Thirst for Verse: Poetry Readings Multiply The New York Times (24 October 1987)

    Same store apparently also treated in Holly Brubach, The Talk of the Town, Intuflo, The New Yorker (8 February 1988) : 26

    The New Yorker’s own summary — The name Intuflo is a contraction of "intuition flow" & it & the store are twin brain-children of Richard Savitsky, the store’s head, who is a former entertainment & real-estate lawyer & a recent co-founder of a firm specializing in malpractice suits against lawyers & banks...

  55. finally, on books in hardware stores —

    What began as a trickle of cookbooks in kitchen shops and do-it-yourself titles in hardware stores has become, in recent months, the fastest growing component in many major publishers’ retail strategies...

    Julie Bosman, Selling Literature to Go With Your Lifestyle, The New York Times, 2 November 2006

  56. One might also search hardware at the Poetry Foundation website. Today (21 March 2011), 75 hits of various relevancies.