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Benjamin Harnett


Return Label

I have packaged up with

over-exceeding care

as if sending it

across the seas to a cousin

serving in the war

to end all wars (that didn’t),

or as if I were a salaried clerk

in a department store

when businesses still cared

to pretend to care,

this return,

not out of any motivation

except an increasing surplus

I can find no other productive

means of absorption

for, besides. As for

the printed return label,

I place it on cardboard corner,

a flash of white, a bright fable:

it is a story I have often told myself

of socially useful exertion,

my assertion that

all this waste (subsumed

into the costs of goods

improperly, as against

the cost of sales),

is of benefit

to myself, and to man.

Benjamin Harnett is a poet, fiction writer, historian, and digital engineer. His poetry has appeared recently in Poet Lore, Saranac Review, ENTROPY, and the Evansville Review. He is the author of the novel THE HAPPY VALLEY and the short story collection GIGANTIC. He lives in Cherry Valley, NY with his wife Toni and their collection of eccentric pets. He works for The New York Times.

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