Landscape, with Castoffs on the Sidewalk

This entry is part 28 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011


Across the street, the neighbor pokes
through piles of furniture left on
the sidewalk, hoping to rescue

a vintage lamp, a serviceable side
table, a stool whose rungs might be
replaced. It’s early yet in the day,

the truck from Samaritan House
not yet there for pickup; expected
rain still a couple of hours away.

At church, in the Commons; at the down-
town thrift shop; or behind the high
school, a row of oversized bins

where we bring castoffs from time
to time, for donation or recycling;
winter coats the children have

outgrown, small kitchen appliances
and tchotchkes taking up too
much room— so many times I’ve felt

the urge to evict such senseless
excess from my life. Things multiply
in the dark; enjoy it now, you can’t

take it with you; or, out with the old
before in with the new
— home-grown
platitudes for making room and yet more

room for stuff. I think of Basho on
the road with his notebook and traveling
cloak, of ascetics spending their days

in meditation under a tree. Oh habit
and earthly desire, what purchase we
still hold on this worldly life—

Stubborn to the end, enamored by
the promise of the beautiful, we cling
to every surface assuring love that lasts.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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