Currently overhauling, updating this page whose last previous major change was in 2012. Where able, substituting new URLs for vanished old links.
Alphabetical order. Will add all items to the overall hardware catalog ( link ) in due course.
Providing full poems or longer passages, where permission has been granted by author (or publisher), or the poem is out of copyright; shorter snippets of more recent, to give their flavor.
Vertical bars at left margin, upper to top of this page; lower to the hardware catalog (an experiment in progress).
25 June 2023
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.
I like the men who come to hardware stores,
men with calloused hands
in dirty jeans and sweaty shirts,
men who work.
I remember times we came together
for shingles and to re-roof the shed,
cement for the outdoor barbecue,
bricks for the patio.
Now I come alone and pause a moment
just inside the door.
Almost I see you there
beyond the ray of dust motes in the aisle.
So strong the sense of deja vu
I have to catch my breath
As if these old familiar smells
could bring you back from death..
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, and still 20230624, although the blog seems to have gone inactive).
It appears that Moody’s is (or will soon be) no more.
uncomfortable with the “man-smell” line, but the poem seems to be personal to its author, about someone who is gone.
- Edward Anthony. “A Hardware Romance.”
(illustrated by R. M. Brinkerhoff, in Harper’s Magazine, May 1921) : link
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
Of 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.
- W. H. Auden. The Age of Anxiety : A Baroque Eclogue (1947) : 42
borrowable at archive.org : link
Why leave out the worst
Pang of youth? The princes of fiction,
Who ride through risks to rescue their loves,
Know their business, are not really
As young as they look. To be young means
To be all on edge, to be held waiting in
A packed lounge for a Personal Call
From Long Distance, for the low voice that
Defines one’s future. The fears we know
Are of not knowing. Will nightfall bring us
Some awful order — Keep a hardware store
In a small town. . . . Teach science for life to
Progressive girls — ? It is getting late.
Shall we ever be asked for? Are we simply
Not wanted at all?
something like Hell, this awful order. in Part Two: The Seven Ages
W. H. Auden (1907-73), wikipedia : link
- Catherine Barnett. “A Brief Poetics of the Hinge.”
enewsletter, The University of Arizona Poetry Center, September 2008.
now at link (with a later (2011) date)
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)
- Ela Barton, “Hardware Store.”
Posted at the author’s Weblog of a Rookie Poet (September 17, 2012) : link —
which no longer exists (as of 20230412); reproduced below with the author’s gracious permission.
author is now Ebo Barton, their website is ebobarton.com
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.
- Elizabeth Kirkley Best. “Hardware Store at Christmas.”
accessed 20 April 2010; gone now (20230624), but accessible (along with some other of her poems) via wayback machine : link
In 2010, I posted only two lines of this poem (“Do the hinges... new”), but out of fear that it vanishes forever, post it entire, below.
Hardware Store at Christmas
First steps on a creaking wood floor
And German tinsel arrays moved front
Past small silver hammers & satin saws
Pretty peppermint canes in this cold year.
A 7mm bolt will fix my writing desk
But crimson & violet decagon
Ribbon bows call
I will have them grace your present
Wrap it in gossamer, send it on wings
Attended by Angels---
They cleared the sidewalks outside
this ancient store
Although I still watch each step
Like I do with you
Do the hinges, bolts, nails sing
Of days when Christmas was new?
Or of the splintered Crosses
Built in Snow, beyond Mangers?
©2005 Elizabeth Kirkley Best
bio and cv, etc., at her wordpress blog : link
poetry listed at her blogger : link (where even this hardware poetry page is mentioned!)
see also the Judah’s Glory Messianic Ministry page, at facebook : link
- 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 (link)
- 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.
- Joe Clark. A Few Grains of Corn from the General Store / “Tennessee poems and pictures by the Hillbilly Snap Shooter.”
Lynchburg (Tennessee): Lynchburg Hardware and General Store, 1972.
28 unnumbered pages . tool photos: shoeing a horse, sharpening what seems to be a saw.
Joe Clark (1904-1989) was known for his photography rather than doggerel-ish verse. His Postcards from Lynchburg series ran as ads for Jack Daniel’s Distillery for over 35 years... Several books at LoC.
“Father, Son Storytellers : Junebug Clark recalls Lynchburg days with his dad, Joe Clark HBSS” by Tabitha Evans Moore, in The Lynchburg Times (June 16, 2023) : link
Some discussion of Joe Clark (and particularly of his subject matter — more interior shots, and a greater willingness to allow the “influences of modernity on rural mountain life”) in Jean Haskell Speer, her The Appalachian Photographs of Earl Palmer (2014) : xvii : link
two photos — “Baptising in Olde Towne Creek” (1938) and “The General Store” (1939) in the article “Joe, Junebug Clark Photography Exhibition To Kick Off Arts In The Gap Summer Events,” a Lincoln Memorial University news item by Marisa Anders (May 27, 2022) : link
- Averill Curdy. “Hardware” appeared in Poetry (June 2009) : link.
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...
Those “solvents, gaskets, pliers, and bolts” may be not only exterior, but interior components of our “vulgar flesh.”
something recent —
“In the Beginning” (February 5, 2021) : link
- 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 link.
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.
- Lynn Doiron. “O! Hardware Store!.”
At Poetry Circle (March 21, 2009) : link
...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
- 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 , the online journal of ICORN International Cities of Refuge Network, Spring 2007. The passage is cited by at least two reviews : here and here.
- 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 (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.
wikipedia : link
- Jean Follain (1903-1971). “Hardware Store.”
Marilyn Hacker’s translation of this poem — “Quincaillerie” — is included in Mary Ann Caws, ed., (2004) here (translation at page 183, continues at 185).
So the hardware store floats toward eternity
and sells, till everyone has got enough,
great nails, in flames.
- Edward A Guest (1881-1959). “Hardware Store Fascination.”
the poem enjoyed wide circulation within the trade, it seems. Here it is, as filler, in the Chicago and Riverdale Lumber Co., Contractor’s Catalog no. 76 : World’s greatest variety of stock millwork (1936 is mentioned somewhere within, but no solid date; perhaps 1935, or earlier?) : link (archive.org — in a beautiful “ditto” or stencil setup, well worth a look !)
I do not know where it first appeared, but here are its 24 lines —
Whenever I go to a hardware store
I wander the counters round
And gaze at knobs for the kitchen door
In a manner that’s most profound.
I look at the glistening pots and pans
And the Gadgets for shelf and wall,
The hammers and planes and electric fans
and I wish I could buy them all.
Whle Mother is getting a packet of tacks
I stroll down the crowded aisles
I linger to fondle a woodman’s ax
And the chisels and drills and files.
And I fancy that deep in the heart of me
The boy that I was survives,
For old though I am, still longingly
I look at the pocket knives.
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.
Though under the chill of the years I’d say
That many a passion cools
A man will keep to his dying day
A deep rooted love of tools.
- 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 —
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 ( link ) for this lead!
- Barbara Hamby. “Ode to Hardware Stores.”
in Babel (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004) : 53-54 : link
Where have all the hardware stores gone — dusty, sixty-watt
warrens with the wood floors, cracked linoleum,
poured concrete painted blood red?
If there's a second coming,
I want angels called Lem, Nelson, Rodney, and Cletis gathered
around a bin of nails, their silence like hosannahs,
hallelujahs, amens swelling from cinderblock cathedrals
drowning our cries of Bigger, faster, more, more, more.
author’s website : link
- 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...
- Adam Houle. “If There’s Nothing You Need”,
at Linebreak (July 7, 2009): link (wayback machine)
I need the industry of things, flat heads
heavy in a breast pocket, their points cut
- 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 (a Borders Council publication), and was shortlisted for the Virginia Wareby Award in July 2008.
- 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.
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.
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).
- Weldon Kees (1914-1955?). Included in this list not because he wrote of hardware or tools — he didn’t — but because his 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 : link (paywall), from which —
...Again, there is a spectral, somewhat Jamesian suggestion of a man who manages to be absent from his own life. Even as we sieve the evidence of the poems, the stories, and the correspondence, their creator is removed from the picture; we are like homicide detectives, chalking a white outline around the space where Weldon Kees used to be.
...By an irony too sharp for any poet, the one book that did appear with his name on the spine was “Nonverbal Communication,” by Jurgen Ruesch and Weldon Kees...Weldon Kees (1914-1955?), wikipedia : link
- 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) : 170 : link (borrowable at archive.org).
Nancy Keesing, personal papers archive at Australian Jewish Historical Society : link
a “communal archives” search yields some other material at AJHS
wikipedia : link.
- 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,
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 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.
good interview with the poet : link
- Valerie Lawson. “Hardware Store.”
, Ragged Sky Press, 2007
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.
- Gary Lechliter. “Hell’s Hardware Store.”
“Featured Poetry” from Issue No. 26, Coal City Review ca 2009, link (via wayback machine).
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.
poem (possibly) contained in his book Foggy Bottoms : Poems about Myths and Legends (Coal City, 2008) : link
- 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 (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.
- Elline Lipkin. “Conversation with my Father” (“after Grimm’s “The Maiden Without Hands””) here (archived poetry of ).
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 (Kore Press, 2006), described here.
- Amy Lowell. “The Landlady of the Whinton Inn Tells a Story.”
Poetry, A Magazine of Verse 11:4 (January 1918) : 171-186 (173) : link (hathitrust)
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,
Funny name for a hardware store, warn’t it,
But them things does happen...
- 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?).
article (by Janine Weins) and poem : link (wayback machine).
the poem (sorry, cannot resist the offence, though will remove if requested) —
Nichols Hardware Sells...
Pots and pans, cool-aired fans,
Toys for boys, curls for girls,
A place to eat, boots for your feet,
Sleds red and blue, paper, tape and glue,
Flower seeds, necklace beads,
Cookware, snowmobiles you can share,
Real good books, candy and hooks,
Reflectors for when it hails, small and big nails,
Puzzles and dolls, big, fat balls,
Pencils and pens, signs and numbers from ones to tens,
... and lots more at Nichols Store!
thank you, Jane, and Janine Weins
- 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.
- 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).
- Pablo Neruda (1904-1973). “Prologues: The House of Odes.”
In Neruda, (translated by George D. Schade), Ponciá Vicencio, 1997
...I want everthing
that all be
a cup or tool,
I want people to enter the hardware store
through the doorway of my odes.
- 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).
- bpNichol. PLAGIARIZED TEXT #1 (pataphysical hardware company)
bpNichol (1944-88), wikipedia : link
- Sanford Pinsker (1941-2018). “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 : here (link (at jstor)
- 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 viewable in History of My Heart : Poems (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1984, 2014) : link
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.”
- Jack Prelutsky. “A Witch in a Hardware Store.”
in My Dog May Be A Genius, drawings by James Stevenson (HarperCollins Publishers, 2008) : 80-81
borrowable at archive.org : link
Light verse, about a broom in a hardware store. The Pommefrites Poetry and Readers Society has it here.
Jack Prelutsky (1940- ), wikipedia : link
- 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
- Robert Jefferson Rice (1856-1923). Gems of Thought and Sentiment.
Raymond (Illinois), 1977 (?)
This volume is more fully described and contextualized at the stores page : link.
The following is presented without permission, for now (19 June 2011, mea culpa).
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
- 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...
- Madelyn Rosenberg. “Ayers.”
“The man says, “I am convinced I can find the holy grail in here
if I look hard enough...”.”
- Cynthia Rylant. “Wax Lips.”
Todd’s Hardware was dust and a monkey —
a real one, on the second floor —
and Mrs. Todd there behind the glass cases.
Chosen by Ted Kooser for American Life in Poetry, Column 101 here. The poem appared in Rylant’s collection Waiting to Waltz (2001).
Cynthia Rylant (1954-), children’s book author; wikipedia : link
- Amy Scattergood. “The Grammar of Nails”
in The Grammar of Nails, a Zyzzyva First Book, Creative Arts Book Company (2001) : 20
has the feel of a prayer —
You hammer the stars into place,
watch as they drop, shatter
against the consonants of cities
How did I come upon this? Likely encountered one of her food pieces in the Los Angeles Times (I am a loyal digital subscriber), where she was editor of the Food section. It may have been “Scaling Mt. Sourdough” — on sourdough starter (September 15, 2014) : link (paywall),
which might have brought to this mind my father’s sourdough starter (just scrape away the mold at top), 60 years ago. but I digress.
Remember reading that Scattergood had been at divinity school for a while.
in trying to find more, came across this interview (details about food as well as poetry) —
Amy Scattergood, “Motion and light: in his new poetry collection, The Auroras, David St. John illuminates the sensibility of the mind at work”
Poets & Writers Magazine 40:3 (May-June 2012) : link
- Larry Schug. “Nail Poems,” in
Snakeskin 109 (December 2004) : link (numbers 2, 4, 18, 64, 39, 20 via wayback machine) and
Snakeskin 124 (June 2006) : link (numbers 87, 90, 92 and 93 via wayback machine).
I see years belatedly, that 111 nail poems eventually became a book : link (amazon)
more on Schug — “...recycling coordinator, mail delivery guy and general handyman at the College of St. Benedict, where he’s worked as a maintenance man in one capacity or another for half his life — 31 years and counting. ¶ He’s also the resident poet.”
see “A poet hooked on rhyme, reason and recycling” by Brian Voerding, Minneapolis Post (Friday, Oct. 24, 2008) : here (via wayback machine).
Here is “Nail Poem #111,” received from the author in 2009 —
I read about a woman
who swallowed 119 nails;
surgeons had to open her up
to remove them.
I’ve spit out 111
have no idea
how many remain inside.
author’s website : link
- 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 sacfreepress Poems-For-All : link, a great project of Richard Hansen in Sacramento California. / link dead, will see what I can find... The poem is not in any (obvious) way about or of hardware, but the presentation is great!
ha! thank you thank you waybackmachine :
One of several poems Max Schwartz (PFAs #268, 269) gave me to consider when making his little PFAs. The magic is in its presentation; a poem, written by Max while in the (former) Yugoslavia and typed on old letterhead from his father’s hardware store. I couldn’t do it justice in my miniature format, but I scanned it because I liked the look and feel so much:
something about the man (1941?-2012), his life and manner, link
- 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...
- Julia Story. “Pretend Hardware Store”
appeared with three other poems in Octopus Magazine 03 (2005); the magazine is gone, but the poem can be accessed here : link (courtesy of the author)
Somewhere in the darkness
is someone sorting. Sort of piling
or maybe sort of stacking.
another — “Red Town #13,” appeared in TriQuarterly (140) : link —
your trees are beautiful
in this weak light
spring is so new
author’s website : link
- Patti Tana. “The Hardware Store,”
in Poetrybay “an on-line poetry magazine for the 21st century” (Fall 2007) : link.
...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 link.
- Henry Taylor. “In Another’s Hands.”
In Understanding Fiction: Poems 1986-1996 (LSU Press, 1996) : google preview link.
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.)
Taylor’s books are listed at wikipedia : link.
- Troost Avenue (pseudonym). “Hardware Store,”
posted November 9, 2009, at authspot (but gone as of 20230412).
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
the poem was so striking, I did save it to a private file, and recklessly make it available thus : link (will remove if asked).
The anonymous author described himself thus —
Born in 1940 on Troost Avenue, Kansas City. Maybe too much education, 32 years worth. M.D., Ph.D. and other fancy stuff. Pathologist and medical researcher with lots of technical publications, none of which are the least bit poetic. Loved science more than making money, in retrospect maybe not the best idea, but you do have to pay for happiness some times. Got cancer, decided life was too short, retired early to become the artist I was intended to be. Cancer cured. Faithful and loving to first wife for 43 years now; poetic regrets are artistic license (but must come from somewhere). Chronic depression till advent of good medications. Bad, bad stuff. Four kids, only one still living. Worse bad stuff. Accomplished woodworker. Fair with oil paints. Found poetry in mid ’09 while down flat with back injury. Two young granddaughters. Life is good.
who is/was this man?
- Ronald Wallace. “Hardware.”
appeared in Poetry Magazine (June 1994) : link.
My Father always knew the secret name
stove bolt and wing nut...
- Susan Wheeler. “Overtaxed Lament,” in her collection Ledger (University of Iowa Press, 2005) : link
Won’t extract here, a poem that’s interesting in the context of its book.
I do not know what I meant by that my sentence, seen now several years after writing it.
- Nancy Willard (1936-2017). “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) : link
- 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” (24 October 1987) : link (paywall)
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...”
- 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”, , 2 November 2006
- One might also search “hardware” at the Poetry Foundation website. Today (21 March 2011), 75 hits of various relevancies.
- Edward Anthony. “A Hardware Romance.”
6 October 2012; 26 June 2023