• stephanieraffelock

Caution: Writer Stretching


I put aside a work in progress, a manuscript that needs to settle before I can pick it up again. Such an action stirs in me other creative endeavors, because I don't know how to make sense of my life without acknowledging that my heart wants to express. So this week I pulled books down from the shelf: Talking Poetics From Naropa Institute, Volumes One and Two. Underlined and highlighted, dogeared and paper clipped pages that I don't remember reading so many years ago. Evenings at Penny Lane on Pearl Street, listening to fellow students read their work. But in those days, I stuck to prose, trying to find form and structure for all the words and sorrows I'd collected over the years. My first newspaper interview was with the late poet Allen Ginsberg. I bookended that thirty some years later by interviewing Richard Blanco.


I'm looking for something. Grappling with a longing for that feeling of home. With some hesitation, I dip my toe into the deep waters of making a poem. Uncertain and unsure, I whisper to myself, try it anyway. Put it out there. Grow. So, here it is, off the beaten path for me. No real agenda. A poem, inspired by the unlikely events of trash collection. Revealing the extraordinary within the ordinary, that's what Blanco told me about poetry, about art.


As if remembering . . . be fearless. Live creative. Try new things. Enough of the pep talk, just put it out there. Everyone begins somewhere.


Trash Day

thunder in the distance

really just the garbage truck

stopping at each plastic bin

lined up like sentries on the street

rumbling and dumping the pungent smell

of a week’s worth of living


hauled away to a landfill

set free to become something else

rotten compost raising hands

to claim what was deemed useless

by those who think themselves so useful

when it’s really just overcompensation


what if the trucks could

haul away the grief, the anger, the fear

bury it deep underground

to be found long after I was dead

and those feelings couldn’t

bind my heart with knotted shame anymore?


trucks and raging gears

mark each Mondays causing me to ask

am I doing enough?

am I ever doing enough?

before I can answer I throw away more pages

crumpled in the wastebasket fearing the garbage man

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