Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Detritus is the fancy word. Crap is the reality.

Today, my poetic inspiration comes from my morning walk down 5th Avenue along Green-Wood Cemetery. I guess the construction has brought out the litter-hooligans. The walkway has always been a slalom course of broken bottles and various leftovers from a passionate night. However, now there is a whole world of new trash to explore. Poo bags in clusters, pee bottles in pairs, lots of unidentifiable paper products and personal items. If I looked closely, I'm sure I could figure them out, but I'll leave that to someone with a stronger stomach.

So I chose this poem because it talks about trash. Country trash. We have different trash here. We might not get bears who tear up our garbage bags, but we have feral cats, the occasional raccoon, and yes, even the elusive homo sapiens sometimes opens up bags in an artistic attempt to share what we feel is worthy to be thrown away. From watching Law & Order, I've learned that once you toss garbage out - onto the street for pick-up - it's fair game. So, there you go. Since this is all about trash, just be warned...there is a naughty word in this excerpt!

So here is an excerpt from William Matthews' "The Bear at the Dump."

from "The Bear at the Dump"

Amidst the too much that we buy and throw
away and the far too much we wrap it in,

the bear found a few items of special

interest--a honeydew rind, a used tampon,

the bone from a leg of lamb. He'd rock back

lightly onto his rear paws and slash

open a plastic bag, and then his nose--

jammed almost with a surfeit of rank

and likely information, for he would pause--

and then his whole dowsing snout would

insinuate itself a little way


...The guardian of the dump was used

to this and not amused. "He'll drag that shit

every which damn way," he grumbled

who'd dozed and scraped a pit to keep that shit

where the town paid to contain it.

The others of us looked and looked. "City

folks like you don't get to see this often,"

one year-round resident accused me.

Some winter I'll bring him down to learn

to love a rat working a length of subway


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