Family Thrift
by Jerry Bradley

Pig drunk and full of arson
(and minute to minute unsure),
he struck a match and stared
at the welter of insignificance
that called itself goodwill.
Then he danced about with a coal oil lamp
that made him think of his grandmother
and threw it, lit, at a mattress,
a doll, a stack of books.

The store was a rich clutter;
now it’s all ashes on the curb,
something calm, almost elegant:
tea sets and suitcases, cat
carriers, discarded 8-tracks
all thickened into a single image,
deprivation nearly turned into art,
something renewed from many things spoiled.

The police heard his monomaniac plea,
how every household has lost a heart to history,
but confessions are not so interesting
for the confessor for whom only fire
can redeem a settling world.

A life rejected by joy is seldom tolerable;
sometimes what falls through our hands
was never welcome or was just too long in coming
and sadder than heartbreak, or an unfashionable hat.

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