Evening, ladies; evening, gents;
    salute you by the dozen, embrace you by the score;
we’ve got things here worth fifteen cents
    and others worth a million more.
Get your numbers, don’t miss a chance
    to bear the rifle Captain Brown once bore
    or touch the lace that trimmed Miss Marilyn’s underpants.
When playing cards were bare on back
    folks filled ’em in as invites to the local square;
now here’s a photo that will pack
    your venue with a hundred cats who’ll dare
play the G-string on this human cello—
this ain’t the F-clef on a bowl of jello—
    Who’ll give me ten? Ten! Make it twenty.
Sixty. Eighty. A hundred! No argumenty
    from me against this turbaned queen of the night!
    Going once; going twice; sold to her lover on my right!

Draw close now, picture a real-life story
    about the deal of your dreams that still hangs verily
ghost-like every day in squamous glory,
    then sit at this early American secretary
where Great-great-grandfather Cat on his feline ass     signed the law that stopped rebellion in western Mass.
He who sits at this desk pilots the nation
    on the wings of change using the rudder of chance,
so be to your friends a friendly inspiration
    and make dens of lions out of hills of ants.
For you patriots who hold your history dear
    a thousand’s nothing for ten pigeon holes—
yes, ma’am, a thousand—twelve fifty—now fifteen clear—
    two thousand—two—your friends’ll say you stole it—
going once, going twice, as Dolly Madison wrote,
    to a lady to use in getting out the vote.

An auction like this you truly have to see—
    the Pembroke shaped top, the period cherry chests,
the drop leaf Queen Anne, the inlaid mahogany
    demilune with leaves, the glass, the finest
Persians and the rarest Chinese silk—
    all brought together by a dealer’s taste.
Here, friends, before you is a man’s life’s work
    offered at the values of today.
Terms: cash or credit card, like everywhere
    you shop and save. A genuine antique beauty
gives your simple, modern parlor a noble air.
    One girandole is every husband’s duty.
Man comes and goes; his furniture remains;
    we buy and sell the shadows of the past;
how inspiring the tracks of our toy trains,
    and how we’re grateful for lovely things at last.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 25 Number 2, on page 32
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