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The Junk Drawer
C. E. Chaffin


It was the last repository of things
uncatalogued, unnamed,
in a world of firm organization.
It held rubber bands (thin pink ones
from throwaway papers) wrapped
around a Band-Aid box containing
rusted paper clips and tarnished brads.
There were loose scissors, dull and nicked,
cheap tools culled from my father’s cache,
adhesive tape, nails, coupons, tacks,
cardboard, pencils, felt pens, maps,
bent compasses and a few stamps
of awkward denomination.

Still, the drawer had a method.
Each category found a row
in the old, cracked silverware tray
but the rows weren’t always pure—
not even Plato could not have distinguished
the essence behind each division,
for there were too many compromises—
tacks lay with emery boards, tape with string.
I’m sure this pained my mother.

I can still see her pinching a lost bracket
in her strong, knobby fingers
and interrogating every family member
as to the origin and purpose
of such an inexplicable thingamjig.
After our ignorance was confirmed
her suspicion of the thing’s importance
increased enough to qualify for the drawer.
She knew one day she would be vindicated
when the whatchamacallit was missed
and she, heavenly packrat, would descend
like Prometheus bearing fire.

This poem first appeared in Quill & Parchment (September 2008) and the now defunct Tintern Abbey.
Used here with the author’s permission.



C. E. Chaffin (1954 - 2013) was a family physician who also enjoyed careers as a poet and singer/songwriter. A contributing editor for Umbrella, and publisher of The Melic Review for eight years, C.E. was raised in Southern California then lived for many years on the Mendocino Coast of northern California with his wife and editor, Kathleen, and a dog and cat.  Father of three daughters and grandfather of one, he enjoyed gardening, hiking, and fishing. Learn more about C.E. here and click here to enjoy an animated version of him reading this poem.




Post New Comment:
Jane Reichhold:
Amazing what one turns up in the catch-all drawer of the Internet - neighbors!
Posted 05/08/2011 11:09 AM
LOVE IT!!! You forgot hardened tubes of super glue!! HA!!!
Posted 05/05/2011 12:42 PM
This is MY drawer (except for the mini-order imposed by the silverware divider!) It is also the drawer my mother had, and her mother before her. Has anyone looked into a possible genetic connection?
Posted 05/05/2011 12:41 PM
wendy morton:
Aren't we all heavenly packrats? Ah, the delight of junk drawers and their various treasures.
Posted 05/05/2011 10:59 AM
nadia ibrashi:
" Descend like Prometheus bearing fire." Wow.
Posted 05/05/2011 10:56 AM
This is absolutely delightful--and absolutely true. (I think of my own "miscellaneous" drawer! I like the way you bring this forth without criticism; let us make up our own minds about the person associated with it. (I like her!)
Posted 05/05/2011 09:02 AM
I love the line about "too many compromises." Such is life, no?!? Great poem!
Posted 05/05/2011 08:35 AM
Sounds like every junk drawer I've ever pawed through! Love it!!
Posted 05/05/2011 05:59 AM

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