general merchandise the old testament.
wares notions sundries dry goods ready to wear candy hats cash & carry Harry Truman making change thanks.
cut-rate kickshaws ten cents each three for a quarter & Jeremiah shifts to turn his burnt eyes from the living zenith to our grain elevator temple of the wounded the dead.
general rank & file matrix of merchandise womb of goods left left left right left.
there's Humphrey pumping drugs all out & sundae soda cracker pop sip water phosphate wax straws wrapped in yesterday's news today's olds forgot & never brought to mind or not.
taurorrhea over thanaturf & coffeegrounds rabbit tobacco Black Maria sold to American a wide sidewalk of good intentions.
we make no compromise with kwality.
hey hey sleeves for sale clearance on cuffs happy hour's here our whole day-old stock of handles reduced from discount for quick sale dead end remaindering bonus for buttons marked down shark'd up mark offs cash & carry dry debris register laid away & bad goods hard wares debacle soft sale we do not deliver in God any longer.
lost our let me pray discipline.
sorry chandlers & economy amen.
Sam Grant making change John Newton selling slaves wholesale retail on consignment Sherman hero with a purchase order signed & countersigned for cavalry mounts thirty-six per cent off buy pay now later soon joy.
tonite only lad-o-rama let us pray order exercise good food night sleep green leafy punctuality red rich meaning amen making change back.
come to the world of wheels & deal deal deal with the deal king himself you might whip our potatoes buddy but you can't beat our meat.
home-made key lime pie me to pray thanks for the soup you amen January [End Page 70] inventory check Adam check Sheth check Enosh check $million in freezedried shrimp in warehouse chillbox on the way to Mars orbit check.
kwik things on a stick check chocolate drops on paper strips oh yes eat it all & make change backwards much obliged ma'am amen brother unhand that candy jar.
a profit's not without honor.
then when will Ipana of yore rise from the new testament of the dead or Mounds & Cords of old.
out to lunch be back one-thirty eat eat kids free it's bat day booths for ladies.
thank you call again making general change pray lay in the lap of Him our merchandise America.
Editor's Note: This poem originally appeared in Legion: Civic Choruses (Wesleyan University Press, 1973) and is reprinted here courtesy of the author. [End Page 71]
William Harmon published five volumes of poetry between 1970 and 1985, including winners of the Lamont Award and the William Carlos Williams Award. Thereafter, he published no further poetry books (though he kept writing it). He did publish a number of anthologies, including A Handbook to Literature and The Poetry Toolkit.