Poem: Forty Minutes

Forty Minutes

Early in the morning and I load the trash
into the back of the old truck.
Seven bags of it. Some boxes.
A smelly ride to the dump.

And then, to my favorite diner.
The windows in the ancient Isuzu Trooper
are big and roll down.
There is a massive sunroof

and the air clears quickly as I drive.
New smells fill the truck’s cabin.
Manure from a field not yet planted.
Young hemp plants smell stoned, even early in the season.

The pickup in front of you is burning oil,
black and pungent. A diesel, from the smell.
You pass a bonfire, old stumps and limbs,
their ashes fill the air.

Speaking of the air, it is clear.
There was rain last night
and the haze has not yet risen.
Everything is sharp and bright,

each field remarkable with its new growth.
It is early in the season and each day you pass here
you can see the growth. It is like magic,
a time lapse movie.

At the diner, the regular crew is far ahead of me.
Normally I am the first one here, but not today.
I am teased, and we all laugh together,
farmers, contractors, retirees and teenagers.

The Mexicans are here too. It must be their morning off.
Strangers and yet not strangers,
their children smile shyly, in a world of their own
and yet here, in the midst of us. Lovely people.

At the counter, the cook chooses new music
to go with the sizzle of bacon and home fries.
I settle down to my regular table. I unpack
the computer.

Here is the truth. I do not feel like writing.
I feel stale. Two days of headaches and diarrhea have drained me.
I do not feel poetic. At all.
I do it anyway.

That is the biggest lesson I learned in my darkest times.
Feelings are real. But they have a tendency to lie.
At least mine do.
Perhaps yours are more honest.

So when they tell me I can’t,
I do it anyway. Out of spite.
Out of anger. Out of stubbornness.
And finally, out of habit.

About this poem.

I was going to title this one “Anyway”, but in the end, it sounded too pedantic for my taste. The poem kinda speaks for itself, I think. The picture was taken in the next town over, Rupert, Vermont.

Tom

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