General Poetry posted February 20, 2016

This work has reached the exceptional level
Six quatrains of Blank Verse

The Thrift Shop

by tfawcus

Not far beyond the intersecting life
of 1st and 23rd, I paused awhile,
my shoulders hunched with cold, and then walked in
where Venus lay, embroidered on a seat,

beneath a reproduction, framed in gilt,
The Carmen Dolorosa of Seville,
whose salt damp tears had run and spoiled her robe.
The ticket with her price was turned in shame.

Among the dresses loosely slung on racks,
were jet set sequined eyes of beaded gowns
that glittered with svelte shapes of former days,
the bric-a-brac of long forgotten lives,

and there beside Stravinsky's Rite of Spring,
two onyx ducks at loggerheads, support
some hidebound books of Alexandrine verse
unsure which way to lean, a Morton's fork

beside a somewhat tarnished silver spoon.
A glint behind the glass then caught my eye;
a set of crystal goblets missing one -
the shattered truth of finite usefulness.

I stooped and thumbed a dollar from my roll,
to purchase Whitman's sighing Leaves of Grass,
before returning home the way I came,
with jumbled thoughts, and hopes, and hidden fears.

Blank Verse Poetry Contest contest entry


Blank Verse: A blank verse poem is written without rhymes and in iambic meter. It is a poetic form that is often used in narrative and dramatic poetry. It was popularized by William Shakespeare.

Although loosely based on a recent visit to the intriguing City Opera Thrift Shop at 222, East 23rd Street, a short walk from my daughter's Manhattan apartment, I have taken considerable poetic licence with the various artifacts on display.

Notes on text
1st and 23rd refers to the intersection of 1st Avenue and East 23rd Street in Manhattan
The Carmen Dolorosa of Seville refers to a painting of a wooden statue of the grieving Virgin Mary annually paraded through the streets of Seville during Holy Week.
salt damp - a rising dampness in walls that sometimes ruins pictures
jet set - a term coined in the 1950's for an international social group of wealthy people who travelled the world to participate in social activities. Jet is also a black gemstone of little value, such as might be sewn into an evening gown.
Svelte - slender and elegant (applied to a person)
Bric-a-brac - miscellaneous objects and ornaments of little value
Stravinsky's Rite of Spring refers to a recording of the ballet and orchestral concert work by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky
Onyx - a variety of chalcedony, a semi-precious stone
To be "at loggerheads" means to be in dispute with no obvious resolution - used here because the bookends are facing away from each other
hidebound: not willing to accept new or different ideas, also referring here to the leather binding of the books.
An alexandrine is a line of twelve syllables. Most commonly, the line is divided into two equal parts by a caesura between the sixth and seventh syllables. Popular in French literature but very difficult to write in English.
Morton's fork - a choice where both options are undesirable. It is said to have originated with the collecting of taxes by John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury in the late 15th century, who held that a man living modestly must be saving money and could therefore afford taxes, whereas if he was living extravagantly then he was obviously rich and could still afford them.
silver spoon - someone born into a wealthy family is said to have "been born with a silver spoon in his mouth"
Leaves of Grass is a poetry collection by the famous American poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) - a compilation of over 400 poems. Not bad value for US$1, I thought.

Photographs by the author.
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