That trundling sound is every garbage can
on this street being emptied. It is not
yet dawn, the neighborhood’s asleep. The truck
with its great arm stops at each house and hauls
each can above its maw to empty it;
the men don’t leave the truck these days, that is
a term of service. There’s a lot of trash
this neighborhood kicks up. It’s not unknown
for lids to open, trash to overflow –
trash scatters in the street, on neighbors’ lawns.
All this at 5 a.m. or so. I still
remember that man riding on the back
of the old trucks who heaved cans into air
above the filthy compactor, again
at 5 a.m. A robot took that job,
and now the men sit up front. But the dawn
is still a vague hope as this work is done.
We still have trash to burn; we still awaken
in our warm beds to hear the sound of work.
If you have any thoughts about this poem, John Isbell would be
pleased to hear them