Junkman, Sing

Well, he said as he sat the trash can back down, it’s a long story.

We were drinking beer in my backyard at four in the morning,

It being one of those sticky September nights

Where sleep was more rumor than reality,

And, as I noted the time on the clock for the umpteenth time,

I heard a song outside my window;

Not some drunken caterwauling of “Danny Boy”

As rendered by some stray tabby in a Dublin alley,

But…singing, like you’d hear on a CD

Or, perhaps, Live From The Met—indeed, so much so

That, at first, I thought some poor sot with an artistic streak

Had pulled off the main road to sleep it off,

But the singing was punctuated with the clatter of can-lids

And the occasional grunt, until I understood that baritone and trash barrel

Were part and parcel of the same man.


As I handed him a second bottle,

He recounted how his lifelong dream of riches, glory,

And a glorious career on the world’s great stages

Came to a sudden halt after a Manhattan debut—I sang my ass off that night,

He recounted—was met with mild praise, the odd bit of outright scorn

And a healthy dose of apathy. I ‘spose, he said between sips,

I could have done all right givin’ lessons, singin’ bit parts here and there.

You’re on the road a lot, but the money ain’t bad,

But one day, just before an audition for a supporting part

In a regional production of Carmen in Binghamton,

He simply left the theatre, got into his car, and drove some sixteen hours

Until he hit town here, and then he stayed;

But, I countered, why not go back? The years of lessons and Julliard,

All for celebrating our refuse and squalor

With roadkill requiems, arias for rats? 

Well, some days it’s a hard way to make a living,

He said, stroking his chin thoughtfully,

But it does give me a venue to sing,

And, to date, I ain’t been panned by no damn cat


11 thoughts on “Junkman, Sing

  1. Love it. Great story. Making art for art’s sake. That’s where the best stuff comes from. A slow meandering of a tale but I never lost interest, that’s a testament to the fine writing.

  2. Trash or feline? A hard choice…at least in the one, you can do as you will without critique, without fear of being railroaded by another…others might look down on you, but hey, at least you’re still doing what you like. Interesting story; has this drifting, slowly eking out sort of movement to it, but it works well, caught there in the strangeness of this encounter.

  3. Wow. Enjoyed the narrative tone. The details bring the scene and interaction to life. “the singing was punctuated with the clatter of can-lids” Very well done!

  4. wow – tight write – loved the ..roadkill requiems and arias for rats..and i agree with bri – he’s living his dream – i take my hat off to him..

  5. alright, sir, this alone merits a subscription. i’m new to the wordpress poetry scene (wasn’t intending on entering, actually) and don’t know what’s proper etiquette, if it exists, but i cease to care. i hope you don’t mind.

    this is completely engaging. i like how you tell it like it is. and junkman is more real than some real people i know.

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