Hayes Davis

The Bargain Apocalypse

Caldor is going out of business,
prices have been slashed in half
and I believe this is what it will
be like when the world ends.

The store is nearly empty.
Fixtures have been broken down,
leftover items thrown helter-skelter
into a mass of brown plastic
shopping carts. The carts are scattered

across the second floor,
the only place left for the discount
seekers, gleaners sifting through carts,
as if looking for hidden answers,
souls they might find among fragments

of olive green carpet, faded orange T-shirts
or the metallic mauve wrapping paper
no one buys, even at fifty cents a roll.

Children shuffle across the dirty floor,
pointing at undersized baseball gloves
or one-armed dolls, begging parents
who answer with a distracted,

automatic “No.” The security guard
is amused. He isn’t needed; nothing
here is worth the risk of a criminal record.

Some have found an answer or two,
and they wait in lines longer
than purgatory, gripping cash
or a Visa. All sales are final.