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Nancy Keating


The way men once used to say
they read Playboy for the articles,
that’s how I read the J. Peterman catalog,

my reality surrendering to reverie,
lost in novelistic product descriptions
name-checking distant places and times,
in watercolor illustrations that idealize
a line of blazers, caftans, fascinators

--a fascinator results from the illicit love
of veil and headband--.

J. Peterman plays me like a violin,
giving my consuming self
an education the way Peter Sarsgaard
gave Carey Mulligan An Education
in that movie. (Well, only sort of.)

Gobsmacked shock,
cool steel in my fingers and mouth:
The no-doubt-sherry-drinking
catalog copywriter notes that
the police whistle here on offer
is the real deal made by J. Hudson,
the very one London bobbies used.

J. Peterman needs you to know
its goods are all about authenticity.

I resist buying it. I used to own
the one Grandpa had from his days
when the Irish police answered
to London. He quit the force,
and then he fled the country.

Now his granddaughter,
a fully assimilated suburban white chick,
doesn’t need another pendant.


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