Ellen Wade Beals, 10/28/2013

Current Occupation: Writer and publisher
Former Occupation: Editor, freelance writer
Contact Information: I heard about cowboy poetry and thought there should be garbagemen poetry too. Here's one from the series I created, written by and about fictional trash haulers.  

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Aaron Render died of a heart attack
in the middle of his route, July 11, 1989

Shortly after two, I’d just come back from lunch,
almost wasn’t at the board,
when Tom radioed in, asked me to call  Emergency,
relaying they were in the northwest alley,
three quarters down, behind 1634.

Tom found him slumped over
in the cab of the rig, between Forest and Francisco,
just behind the garage of an English-looking house.

Their routes on Mondays shadowed each other
but if not Tom, someone else would have found him.
Already a concerned customer had called
to report one of ours “loafing” on the job.  

Aaron Render died of a heart attack
in the middle of his route.

On either side of the alley,
the garages are kept up, it’s nice–
one gray, one brick, no graffiti
and the wild plants grow:
Tree of heaven, Queen Ann’s lace,
prairie blues, and  thistle.
 
But it was the inside of the cab he saw–
steering wheel black and scuffed as a bowling ball,
the garish pink of a Dunkin Donuts bag;
the red poppy from Veterans of Foreign Wars
still wrapped around the rearview mirror.

Aaron Render died of a heart attack
in the middle of his route.

He took the garbage up until the end.
Each can empty had its lid restored.
I called the boss and he tells me
to telephone the family.
Wouldn’t you know I got their damn machine?
The tape was worn and their message
sounded sad and wavering, like a mermaid’s voice.
I had to think of what to say;
it was me who felt underwater.

Aaron Render died of a heart attack
in the middle of his route.

6 comments on “Ellen Wade Beals, 10/28/2013
  1. MF McAuliffe says:

    This is good. Nicely described; just enough description & repetition to make the point.

  2. Ginny says:

    You really capture this fellow- makes think more of the trash collector

  3. Ellen Wade Beals, 10/28/2013 | Work Literary Magazine

  4. Linda Gartz says:

    Poignant and a reminder that we shouldn’t be immediately judgmental when someone doesn’t show up.

  5. Julie Lakehomer says:

    This is very moving! Thank you!

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