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Ken Poyner



If you listen for enough years

The sound of the garbage truck,

Plodding its so many paces

Between the same sets of cans

That appear unbidden every garbage day,

Is a kind of music.  Roar

And squeal and throttle back and

Bass of the mechanical arm extending, the

Percussion of contact, a slow

Chorus of hoist and then the bang

And rattle and the alto of the

Crush cycle:  the kettle punctuation

Of the can dropped back in its place

And the roar again, maybe longer,

Maybe shorter than the last, but

Always in the same sequence.


A boy could lay down

A bit of accompaniment,

Slap the tenement steps, run

A broomstick along the fence,

Gather all the stray notes and organize

A product like good scraps pulled

Out of bad and made sweet.

Then the girls from the next garbage stop

Might come out in their hip

Huggers and halters, in their hand

Me down sundresses, and start

To grind to the boy’s chain and

Concrete boundaries, his sonorous fill

For the trash truck’s moan and shout

And happy feet beat.  And the boy

Could dance from instrument to instrument


As the sound of the truck fades

And the girls would wink at him

As his sound grew with the truck’s

Diminishment, and the boy would tip

His imaginary hat and do an impression

With the girls still swaying and pushing

Hips and shoulders and breasts against

Evolution to then just the memory of music.


And some week, hope against hope, the boy,

With his own good rhythm and sound

Metrical sense, just might, fast hands and

Downtown discovered beat, get even, 

Get valued, get lucky.

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