Origin Stories – Jeanne DeLarm

Origin Stories
    Swap Meet
    by Jeanne DeLarm

    A round kitchen clock, batteries corroded,
    displays the correct time, some time.
    This glass baking dish, we can use in our rental.
    Rubber dolls play inside a mini house
    dressed in swatches of dirty fabric.
    Cowboys, Native American plastic men intertwine.
    Vinyl rodeo corrals tangle with palm trees.
    Army guys in Cossack hats and boots
    lie down          and aim rifles,
    bright blue on their vinyl bellies.
    The toy remnants of past wars,
                            forgotten wars,
                            they found themselves
                            thrown into degraded bins.
    I ask prices of the young guy
    sitting on a folding chair
    set up inside an empty trailer truck.
    How much?
    One dollar each.
    His eyes glimmer.
    No. Free.
    Everything is free.
    Every object glows
    with the fire of possibility of used matchbooks
    from bars in Las Vegas, Sinatra-time.
    We bag it all up.
    I pass the truck and wave
    a thank-you to the young guy, his dark face
    shining with sweat,
    his eyes down at his feet
    as though he’d just lost his girlfriend.

Origin Stories – Swap Meet

I’m a self-employed antique dealer, or rather, a dealer in “used merchandise.” Flea markets, swap meets and tag sales supply me with material. At a flea market, one must arrive around dawn to find anything decent. Vendors at the Oakland (CA) Coliseum Swap Meet drive onto a parking lot, unload plastic bins and toss used items onto the pavement. Early birds such as myself peck through looking for treasures. But one day in March of 2022 my husband and I rolled in late, just before noon, the reason being that I was trying to get over the flu and slept in. By noon, the vendors have to face the fact that they must pack up unsold junk, load it back into their trucks, and subsequently find somewhere else to put it. The young guy in this poem sat in the back of the truck and just wanted it all gone away. Since I did find in one of his cardboard boxes some vinyl figures from the mid-twentieth century, I was grateful. Russia had invaded Ukraine. Blue soldiers in Russian WWII outfits lay on their bellies, aiming rifles as small as toothpicks. Though the toys had been produced decades earlier than 2022, war seems to never become obsolete. I sold the soldiers on eBay and donated the rest of the stash to GoodWill, for someone else to try to sell. 

Jeanne DeLarm


Gyroscope Review Spring 2023 Issue Available now!

Previous Origin Stories

April 1 Wanda Praisner

April 2 Howard Lieberman

April 3 L. Shapley Bassen

April 4 – Sharon Scholl

April 5 – Stellasue Lee

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Origin Stories