Monthly Archives: January 2014

Purging the Bins

PURGING THE BINS:

The men came for them in the early hours.
Seized them, roughly; hauled them, brutally,
to the truck.

Metal clamps descended, ruthlessly,
lifting them, spinning them, hanging them,
suspended, head-down.

Their innards slithered, rushed, tumbled
out; disgorged their inner muck.

They were yanked upright, marched back.
Left, still shaking; empty, hollow shells
of their former selves.

He lay, in his bed, nearby;
heard the anguished, clanging din.
And he wished for an angel of purgation,
to come and do the same for him.

He wished for an angel of purgation,
to come, with the morning light.
Ease away his tossing and turning;
bring closure to the endless night.

He wished for an angel of purgation,
to come and strip his soul of sin.
To purge his corpulent body,
so it might, once again, become thin.

He wished, most of all, for the angel
to inflict him with well-deserved pain.
Scour him clean of his faults, his vices;
to start life all over again.

 

This is a poem that springs directly from a recent episode in my life.  It was during a period when I was having problems getting to sleep at night.  Fellow-sufferers of insomnia will know all too well the feeling of despair that grows as the early hours pass by, and daylight starts to seep into the bedroom.  Just as I felt I was finally slipping into blissful unconsciousness, I was jolted awake by the sounds of the dustbin-collection, right outside my bedroom window.  As I lay there, silently cursing the innocent bin-men, the ideas for “Purging the Bins” began to take shape.  Although I’d had a sleepless night, at least I got a poem out of it!

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The Half-Full Cup

THE HALF-FULL CUP:

Much, much later, you will reflect.
You will think back, to how it all depended;
how so much depended, on the trajectory
of the contents of the half-full cup of coffee,
that you, unthinking, uncaring,
had flung out of the second-floor window.

How it must have dispersed, in the breezy
summer air.  And yet how, miraculously,
it retained much of its force, for the impact
of landing – SPLAT! – on the head of the
unfortunate person below.

How you saw your life, at that time,
as a glass half-full.

How, even now, you fail to see
how that half-full glass has emptied.

My poem “The Half-Full Cup” is – I have to shamefacedly admit – inspired by a real incident.  It happened a long time ago, and, although there were some immediate, physical repercussions, I am relieved to report it did not have any long-term consequences.  It was only recently that, as I was mulling over various aspects of my life that I had not yet written about, I suddenly saw how the incident could become the source for a poem.

Well-read lovers of modern verse might find the third line “how so much depended . . .  reminds them of something.  I can save them from scratching their heads in frustration by informing them that they are probably thinking of “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams; one of the best-known – and most enigmatic – of modern poems:

so much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white
chickens

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