graveside for the junkman

The truck was crushed and dented

Almost beyond recognition

When the county boys reached the scene

(Though, as one of the deputies remarked,

Having seen the vehicle tottering around town

For virtually all his born days

Still ain’t much worse than when it started)

Having slid off the Stamford Road

Then down the embankment

Where it had made an unwelcome embrace

Of a utility pole near the old Ulster and Delaware tracks,

A rather unhappy ending to what had been

An arguably equally unhappy existence,

Though old Doc Benner had surmised

The junkman had probably been dead

Before the truck had made the shoulder,

Or so he had said at the graveside service

(He being one of the three or four in attendance,

Feeling that one who’d been a common thread

In the existence of so many for so long

Should not go without some commemoration

In this already frayed-at-the-edge little town)

And he remarked that the old man had once told him,

When the doc noted the old saw

That one man’s trash was another’s treasure,

The main diff’rnce ‘tween trash and treasure

Is just a matter of expectations,

And the whole scene would have been most poetic if,

After the reverend’s perfunctory hand-off to the Almighty,

The clouds had broken and a thin shaft of light

Had fallen upon the junkman’s stone,

Or perhaps a gentle rain commenced

To heal the disturbed sod,

But the skies remained a slate-gray truculence

As the sexton’s ancient pickup tottered away,

The ropes and shovels tossed higgledy-piggledy

Under an ancient and somewhat watertight old tarpaulin.

7 thoughts on “graveside for the junkman

  1. A BRILLIANT portrait of small-town life in its very real sorrows. Thank you.

    1. I’m glad this resonated with you, Lawrence–I had some significant concerns as to how this piece was put together.

      1. The compactness, the density of language make this short poem work.

  2. i love the determination in this poem and how you relay it… the “would have been most poetic” but sky sky stays gray and truculent, a new word for me, truculent, a great word, of defiance….it’s as if the junkman willed it, wouldn’t let the rains heal, as you say, and that reminds me of Fred G. Sanford’s stiff-necked ways when confronted by Aunt Esther’s bible.

    1. Esther was a…formidable woman.

  3. This poem is one of your best. The history, the imagery, the narration and the illumination at its end. Very well done on all accounts. Very Masters’!

    1. You know how gratifying a Masters comparison is to me, be it deserved or otherwise.

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