Thrift Store Special


If I hung in a storefront

I’d have no label

It was torn off in the wash

The store owner lied

Trying to cover a great crime

I’m not gentle cycle, nor wash below 30c

I don’t fluff up well in dryer

Or need ironing on low heat

I’m a thrift store special

Good for a gander, then better cast off

Stuffed in the back of your closet

Forgotten until you move house

When you hold me to the light

Exclaiming; where did I buy this?

A little wistful, a little disgust

Just like a spare thread can run

Through any knit and mar its form

I was shrunk on hot and stretched in cold

Long before you grabbed me out of the lucky dip bin

It was the elongation of my experience

Like wool is malformed turning huge in water

Expanding and reducing, I am the sheared sheep who took off

When the shepherd came to my turn

I never backed down, nor avoided spitting in their eye

My fur smells of energy and emptiness and freedom and neglect

You wear me when you want attention

Or to be someone you’re not

And I’m sequins gathered in a pearls bosom

The knotted mohair and impossibly soft angora

But most of all, I’m the time you left your possessions behind

And rode in the dark without lights

Imagining your bicycle a horse and you …

with your dress catching in the spokes covered in oil

You just wanted him to catch fire on your edges

Sounding the cavorting need you had to bloom beneath

Then you were a water-lily and even years later

You are reminded each time a candle is lit, the smell of wax

How he burned your fingers with his inelegant desire

And you opened like origami to his bewitchment

Then you were a dragonfly, passing through fountain

If I hung in a storefront

I’d have no label

But you’d purchase me all the same

Over again


At the memory of

Something you couldn’t quite grasp

47 thoughts on “Thrift Store Special

  1. These words are heart-wrenching. I ache for the narrator, and just want to much to tell her this: No one is a thrift-store special. Not one person is a cast-off. Not one person has less value than another, no matter how you feel at the moment, or how someone has caused you to feel. You are a brand-new creation every morning that you open your eyes. We cannot be worn out and used, because we are not inanimate objects with a fixed label. We do not become something simply because someone else determines that we are. We are who we choose to be, who we feel like, who WE say we are. I say that I am fabulous, intelligent, creative, funny, and kind. I say that I am worth more than diamonds, deserving of nothing less than kindness, love, and mutual respect. If anyone were to think less of me, or to see me as a thrift store special, I would laugh in his face, and go along my way, knowing better, feeling pity for those who can’t see the amazing, brilliant, strong, confident, beautiful person that I am. I am never less than that. And that is an attitude that I wish I could give you, and clothe you in, like a wealthy person clothes one dressed in tatters.

  2. Thank you SO much! I don’t usually really like my work not just because I”m not a huge egotist but you know how it is, sometimes you can appreciate other people’s work more than your own but I did feel happy with this. I’m so glad you thought so and thank you very much for letting me know!

  3. My darling friend you are so right about everyone being a beautiful person and how important it is to realize that and proceed through life having that confidence. The point I was making I think here, was that you can be ‘seen’ as that, but you are so much more than that, maybe it didn’t come across well enough but that was what I was trying to say, that if this person who felt that way, they were also so much more along their journey and ultimately the boy who cast them off would choose them again which proves that whatever he thought of their worth wasn’t true. I guess that wasn’t clear but that was my point 🙂 Anyway I am in total agreement with you, I don’t have your confidence maybe but I defintely have your outlook on life, and also if we let people treat us badly that’s on us, we can be the change we want to see by having faith in ourselves and others will see that inner light. Thank you beautiful friend for these words and reading this poem. xo

  4. mmm I must not have been clear with this one, which is weird as I was pretty proud of this poem, but you’re the second person who had a very different take on it than what I intended. The point isn’t discarded and abused, it’s more that the person in question was let down but they realize their worth and rise above including knowing the person who let them down would want them again but they would not want them back in return. It’s redemptive. I guess I didn’t make that patently clear. I always find it interesting as some of the poems I least like of mine, are those others love and those I love, invariably aren’t. Isn’t that an interesting dichotomy?

  5. I’m SO glad you liked this Sarah SO glad. I like it and I don’t usually like my work that much but I felt this got it right (what I was trying to say) so that you thought so too really validates me and makes me grateful to you because I know you would ‘get it’ and that means the world to me. Thank you so much!

  6. Ooh I love this! And I totally get the positivity that shines through this one, but maybe that’s because I’m an Op Shop Queen, and I love fossicking out the slightly quirky treasures; finding the perfect outfit, which maybe I don’t wear again for years, but when I do, I LOVE it up. There’s nostalgia in this for me, and youth passing, but there’s definitely redemption and love… beautiful 🙂 I think it’s a fab one 🙂 x

  7. I got that. It had me thinking of someone I know who has spoken of some of her old lovers suddenly getting in touch, even after many years, with thoughts of getting a second chance.

  8. I think I was seeing it from the outside rather than from the protagonist’s point of view. Taken from that position, it does come clear. And, just to be clear, I haven’t yet read a poem of yours that I didn’t like and disn’t somehow, even if not quite as you intended, strike me deeply. Every reader of any work is different, has different experience and sometimes triggers and emotional connections, so, all read differently. The adventure, especially with poetry, ofttimes, is in the variety of response.

  9. To me it is about being true to yourself, showing your colours
    even if you have to bend to the will of the world, respectively other people, you ca still retain
    that core of wayward cotton to use your imagery.

    I loved reading that, it fit my rebellious mindset atm. Sometimes I wish to put all other people in a laundromat, wash them turn and turn and turn…. And maybe get a different perspective on some things

  10. One of your best ones yet…. poignant and delicately touched words put down just so with great intention and reflection….

    I do 75% of my shopping at thrift stores… I see the value in the discarded and will wear it for long as it wants to wear me 🙂 Love ya sis…

  11. If you had a label….i contemplate the impossibility of that with a soul such as yours. But i have to believe whatever the label says….you are always so much more. ❤❤❤

  12. YES! Lunar you got it. That’s how I meant it to be, the idea of being pulled in all directions, with labels and misuse and still being able to retain who you were before all of it. Ha! I wonder if we could wash out the bullshit and people would come out the way we imagine them to be. What a wonderful idea. Thank you dear one for reading and your comment xo

  13. I totally agree with you and I’m glad you reminded me of this, we sometimes are too precious (I sometimes) for people to understand the way we understood it but why? What’s wrong with their own impresson or take on it? How is that different say, to interpretations of art paintings etc? I need to be mindful of this and I thank you for reminding me because it was over-due and I like the freedom it brings as well as you say, the variety. Thank you for reading my work I am very, very grateful to you friend

  14. You’re very welcome. The interpretation thing reminds me of how differently we respond on reading something again years or decades later, and what a joy that can be discovering new things in it.

  15. That could make things easier, but probably also would be abused, so it might be best we can’t do it, I guess You are as always so very welcome! 💜

  16. Wow… Fantastic poem… sad, but redemptive at the same time. Brilliant use of metaphor and very relatable, as who hasn’t felt like an neglected, worn, used garment at times. But no one should every be made to feel that way by someone else, especially from someone loved & cared for. I’m glad the story ends with the realization that all lives have worth. ღ

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