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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
Squalor then vs now

Submitted: September 17, 2015

A A A | A A A

Submitted: September 17, 2015



When I was younger

We didn't have garbage men

to escort away the unsightly, the smelly, to cover up the bodies of our destruction

We burnt our trash in a metal drum or

we took it out to the old junk pile and

when I was seven I spent a lot of time

climbing that junk pile, barefoot

in my Holly Hobby dress

picking with my round little fingers

discs of old soup-can tops and

shards of green glass 'cause

I could feed the can tops to my goat and

believed with all my heart that the pieces of glass were evidence of a real emerald city

Sometimes I'd find toys

and sometimes I'd find living things and I

grew a great compassion towards bugs

who were making just as much imaginative use out of junk

as I was

on this great pile of forgotten

Alone, on a Sunday, in my Holly Hobby dress


danger all around me, yet

I never got cut


And now I'm old

and the glass and the metal know their place and

if we touch, they bite

I throw them away to protect my own child of seven

so that he doesn't suppose a broken beer bottle to be

seeds of a shattered planet or

the can tops to be ninja stars or _[not for me to know] 

and I provide for him by

sitting on top of someone else's garbage heap and 

picking out the good things here and there and

staving off the deluge of 

the things they say I owe

I will eat the tin tops from your hand

cause I'm your scape goat I'm

the struggling burden on your white body of destruction

unsightly, smelly


Why don't you put on that dress?

Clean yourself up

Stop spending so much time alone when

there are things to be sorted

We'll pay you money if you just stop thinking about it

give me drugs to stop thinking about it

promise me my kids will be engineers if I just stop 

taking food stamps and start materializing tuition

get off the junk heap

Get off the_______


but now these memories are oddly fond

I remember what it was like to breathe and

create play in phases and

not be that static all the time

I think about the little shapes I'd pick out

if the one I loved was near

and it's a sad and blurry thought

brief, unformed, hard to imagine

the second I set it down its whisked away

unsighly for someone my age

but look at the pile I've made!

Look at this carefully curated island

how it communicates my hopes and dreams and feelings to you

as you sail overhead in some distant vessel

help goddamn you, HELP ME

help me love the pretty things!

help me find compassion

but you fly away as quickly 

and silently

and distantly 

as . . . 

and now I take every pill that washes ashore

maybe one will make me sleep, maybe

one will stop my heart, maybe

one will stop me from thinking so much

and I'll put on that dress

and let the bugs sing me off to burn 

in the squalor 

of a silent, hiding, shameful world




© Copyright 2018 Keisha Gamman. All rights reserved.

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