Peripatetic Salesman in Brendle’s Parking Lot One October Afternoon

Poetry DNA version:

In this short poem, the words “Not yet I said / hoping to avoid the pitch” became, after a bit of editing, the piano phrase you hear in the song.

The original spoken word version:

Peripatetic Salesman in Brendle’s Parking Lot One October Afternoon (originally written sometime in the ’80s, when Brendle’s stores still rang cash registers in the American South)

Hey bossman

he said

Are you Christmas shoppin’?

Not yet, I said

hoping to avoid the pitch

Too late:

He was holding out already a napkin

cupped in his hands

like an offering

Nestled inside

lay a necklace

coiled like a snake

sleeping in white desert sand

Fourteen carat, twenty inches

he said

Mmm, I said, that’s nice

but I’m not in the market

Gotta light? he asked

and that’s when

I saw

the unlit cigarette

dangling

from parched lips

–Jr. James

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