Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Inventory Poetry

Chesterton famously observed about the list of things that Crusoe saved from his wrecked ship that the most romantic sort of poem is the inventory.  His point was that, as with the soggy things that Crusoe dragged gratefully to shore, everything in your sock drawer was saved from a ruin.  Everything in your pockets survived this morning's potential cataclysm.
Anyway, I found myself covering for the maintenance director at the local elementary school a couple of days last week.  The job involved a few light duties and a lot of sitting at this desk waiting for the school secretary to call and alert me to vomit in the hallway somewhere between the kindergarten and the nurse's office.
So this is an inventory of the contents of the flat drawer above the knees in the desk of a very capable man.

Keys, worn and mostly lockless
Screws in pouches
            loose and rattling
            wood, machine, self-drilling
            philips head, conventional
                       otherwise and odd
Paper clips plain or red, twisted and twisted back
            imperfectly
Nuts and washers
Allen wrenches
Flexible rulers for conquering distance
Tattered pouch of spiral screw extractors,
            the green plastic brittle and greasy
Padlock, locked with no sign of a key
A pager, its battery dead
Pens, pencils, a sorry eraser
Scraps of paper with obscure notations
A book of matches
            from Stop & Shop Groceries
            which must be closed before striking
More keys and more keys
            the life gone out of them
A magnet on a stick
            only hope for little screws
            beyond regretful finger's reach
Box cutter
Key chain
A cotter pin and drill bits
A calculator
A tester for live circuits
            itself long dead.

JOEL TATE, FELLOWSHIP OF THE OCTAGON

3 comments:

BAREFOOT KANGAROO said...

Brilliant. If you inventoried the contents of most drawers in the Octagon you would find a pad of paper, a single pen with blue ink, a ten dollar bill folded into the shape of a bow tie, and an unopened package of wrigley's spearmint chewing gum.

While I'm up can I get you anything?

Rocket Surgeon, Phd said...

Genius

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