|Brodsky is the author of over 50 volumes of poetry, as well as eight scholarly volumes on William Faulkner. Rated X-mas is his latest book.|
© 2004 Louis Daniel Brodsky
Awakening at 2 AM, six days a week,
Has never seemed like one of life's D-Day invasions,
A choreographed pas de deux dance of death
Between you and an army of Blitzkrieg pre-sunrises,
A Sisyphean denial of gravity, on rising from bed,
Coaxing your ancient body out of slumber.
Quite the contrary. You've always accepted your fate
With a blue-collar grain of salt pork,
Found getting up in morning's bowels ennobling.
In reality (whatever that might mean),
You were never given a choice.
Either you showed up for work, at 3 AM,
Or you forfeited your union job.
And, truth be told, you and your occupation
Are a perfectly perfect perfect fit.
After all, how many guys are as lucky as you,
Who can do what they always dreamed of doing —
Driving a Heil PT 1000 high-performance rear loader
Fifteen-second-compaction cycle time,
Payload of up to a thousand pounds per cubic yard)
For the most prestigious waste-management company
In a five-state region,
Achieving seniority, tenure, exemption from being fired,
Entitlement to every benefit under the stars and moon,
From free dentures to the panoply of burial costs.
Waking at two is really a paltry sacrifice
When compared with the dread possibility
Of being laid off without notice, having your job done
By someone in China, India, or the Dominican Republic.
Thank God you were so farsighted
When, directly out of George S. Patton Junior High,
You signed on with Advanced Waste Disposal Management,
You, a visionary, able to foresee the future,
Realize that the one constant in a crappy economy
Will always be the need to process refuse, debris,
The inevitable, eternal accumulation of garbage
In a country that worships consumerism,
Prays to the great god Stuff.
You've been going house to house to house,
In the sprawling, wall-to-wall suburbs of St. Louis,
Going on forty years, and you're still going strong.
You're the grand old man of AWDM,
Who's stuck it out,
Come rain, sleet, snow, tornado, and drought.
Your dreams reek of the sweet odors of trash.
You speak the dialect of bulging Hefty bags.
Your 2 AMs are homages to landfills and dumps.
How privileged you've been to have been needed —
You might say necessary — all these years,
Sort of like a doctor or priest or TV repairman.
If you have one fear, it's this:
What if scientists discover that garbage cures cancer
And everyone starts hoarding it in their basements?
The Word Made . . .
Until well ensconced in his mid-sixties,
He was a very verbal man.
Some even considered him eloquent, poetic.
But in a matter of days or weeks, perhaps years,
He began losing his trains of thought frequently,
Couldn't finish a sentence,
Misplaced himself in irrepressible stuttering,
Shocking friends and family,
Causing them to gasp and stutter in sympathy.
What might commence as a simple idea
Would sink into radically chaotic obfuscation,
A morass of cavernous echoes —
"Once once once, I I I I I I I I I
Was was was was was was was was . . ." —
Followed by wide silence dialoging with itself.
At some indeterminate juncture,
The lapses degraded into vast chasms of impasse;
Even the "once I was"es got tongue-tied.
On his death bed, years later, perhaps decades,
All he could do was froth at the mouth,
Slobber, choke on his mute words,
While his doctors and nurses did their best
To decipher, translate his incomprehensibility,
Resurrect the genius he was
Before salvation hijacked his capacities,
Inspired in him the ineffable glory of God —
The Word made grunt, howl, moan.
All work is copyrighted property of Louis Daniel Brodsky.
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