Rummaging through rusted iron
bins filled with ripped bags and
He chances upon empty bottles
made of plastic that he sheathes
in a hollowed flour sack.
Up to his waist in remnants from
his neighbors, he sifts carefully
so as not to miss any.
He fills three sacks and exits,
carefully closing and bolting the
door even dogs can open.
He shleps his bulky light load
down the broken sidewalks,
only their borders intact.
Across town he goes, checking
bins and cans to add to his stash
that leads him to a garage,
Built of brick with a door that
opens upwards, he exchanges
his bottles for respite.
Taking his empty sacks and
full wallet, he heads back to
his favorite shop.
He loads up on what is most
essential to his life and makes
his way to a quiet corner.
Bottles for new bottles, he empties
the glass of its clear contents
quickly and contentedly.
He scratches his beard through his
threadbare gloves, rubbing his
chest through soiled stripes,
Looking up he sees a familiar face
from his family looking down
The violent stare grabs him, and
he is dragged in a stupor through
the snow and slush.
Everything moves too quickly and
he tries to push his brother away,
only to be pushed himself.
Indignation, fury, shame all assail
his enflamed mind and cloud the
vision of blood-soaked eyes.
He trips and falls and his brother
helps him up, brows furrowed in
a sunburned valley.
The man cannot remember much
when he remembers next,
a time quite unfamiliar.
He checks the flour sacks and
ties them again to his belt before
slipping into his boots.
His wallet is light and all the glass
has shattered, so there is nothing left
but to return to the iron.
Author’s Note: There’s a gentleman I’ve wanted to write about for a while who lives in my little apartment block. He’s always looking to recycle bottles, but sadly, whenever I see him outside of the dumpsters, he’s drunk out of his mind (usually being ushered by a pair of gentlemen who are not afraid to be rough with him). I’ve always wondered what was going on in his life, so I thought I’d try to explore it through a poem.