Distress Sale

Early one Sunday morning everything outside -
the child's canopy bed and vanity table,
the sofa, end tables and lamps, boxes
of assorted books and records. We carried out
kitchen items, a clock radio, hanging
clothes, a big easy chair
with them from the beginning
and which they called Uncle.
Lastly, we brought out the kitchen table itself
and they set up around that to do business.
The sky promises to hold fair.
I'm staying here with them, trying to dry out.
I slept on that canopy bed last night.
This business is hard on us all.
It's Sunday and they hope to catch the trade
from the Episcopal church next door.
What a situation here! What disgrace!
Everyone who sees this collection of junk
on the sidewalk is bound to be mortified.
The woman, a family member, a loved one,
a woman who once wanted to be an actress,
she chats with fellow parishioners who
smile awkwardly and finger items
of clothing before moving on.
The man, my friend, sits at the table
and tries to look interested in what
he's reading - Froissart's Chronicles it is,
I can see it from the window.
My friend is finished, done for, and he knows it.
What's going on here? Can no one help them?
Must everyone witness their downfall?
This reduces us all.
Someone must show up at once to save them,
to take everything off their hands right now,
every trace of this life before
this humiliation goes on any longer.
Someone must do something.
I reach for my wallet and that is how I understand it:
I can't help anyone.
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Raymond Carver

A short-story writer and poet. One of the best-known writers in the “dirty realism” movement. more…

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"Distress Sale" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 27 Feb. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/47047/distress-sale>.

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