Map Unavailable

Date(s) - 01/10/2019 - 01/17/2019
12:00 am


And finally, a new year poem of gratitude & appreciation . . .

To the Garbage Collectors in Bloomington, Indiana, the First Pickup of the New Year

          by Phillip Appleman

 (the way bed is in winter, like an aproned lap,

    like furry mittens,

    like childhood crouching under tables)

The Ninth Day of Xmas, in the morning black

outside our window: clattering cans, the whir

of a hopper, shouts, a whistle, move on …

I see them in my warm imagination

the way I’ll see them later in the cold,

heaving the huge cans and running

(running!) to the next house on the street.

My vestiges of muscle stir

uneasily in their percale cocoon:

what moves those men out there, what

drives them running to the next house and the next?

Halfway back to dream, I speculate:

The Social Weal? “Let’s make good old

    Bloomington a cleaner place

    to live in—right, men? Hup, tha!”

Healthy Competition? “Come on, boys,

    let’s burn up that route today and beat those dudes

    on truck thirteen!”

Enlightened Self-Interest? “Another can,

    another dollar—don’t slow down, Mac, I’m puttin’

    three kids through Princeton”?

Or something else?


A half hour later, dawn comes edging over

Clark Street: layers of color, laid out like

a flattened rainbow—red, then yellow, green,

and over that the black-and-blue of night

still hanging on. Clark Street maples wave

their silhouettes against the red, and through

the twiggy trees, I see a solid chunk

of garbage truck, and stick-figures of men,

like windup toys, tossing little cans—

and running.

All day they’ll go like that, till dark again,

and all day, people fussing at their desks,

at hot stoves, at machines, will jettison

tin cans, bare evergreens, damp Kleenex, all

things that are Caesar’s.

O garbage men,

the New Year greets you like the Old;

after this first run you too may rest

in beds like great warm aproned laps

and know that people everywhere have faith:

putting from them all things of this world,

they confidently bide your second coming.

Poet, novelist, editor, and Darwin expert Philip Appleman (b. 1926 in Indiana) is known for his biting social commentary and masterful command of form. The author of numerous volumes of poetry, three novels, and half a dozen collections of prose, Appleman’s range of subject matter includes Darwin, politics, morality, and sex. His work has been described as entertaining and provocative: “Appleman wants to amuse and drop morals without moralizing; he’s smart enough to do it swiftly, knowing the warp of satire soon wears thin.”