Tuesday, June 06, 2006


The Master of the Blue Bin

His friends amazed at his skill,
witnessing flesh conquering machine.

He was one with the claw, grasping a
fuzzy trophy with focused confidence,
at thirteen, he was at the top of his game.

At thirty-three, he leaves before dawn
Playing a new game, spread over the medieval city.
His truck rattles down narrow streets with drawn shutters,
the long claw-arm tucked in tight behind the cab.

It is the same route revealing new obstacles at each stop:
Rusty spray-painted city bicycles, locked and chained,
Small Fiats parked hesitantly, with the flashers on,
Appliance boxes, pieces of renovation, junk piled high,
Old bins that should have been replaced long ago.

Via Verdi, his last stop, time running out,
its residents brewing coffee, brushing teeth,
washing restless sleep from their swollen eyes,
as the truck bursting with glass and plastic,
gathering skeletons of the city’s unquenchable thirst,
taking them to be born again, to be played again.

Atop his throne, strong hands on joysticks and levers,
the engine straining, pumping hydraulic blood,
he plays the claw. The first pass hooks the bin, lifting,
he skillfully positions it over the truck: a jerking shake,
a little twist, then the loud shower of breaking glass.

Gently tamping with the empty bin compresses and
flattens the mound of the morning’s collection.
Perfectly placing it on its resting spot by the sidewalk,
he pulls over the green tarp, adjusting a loose bungee,

Slowly walking his victory lap around the truck,
inspecting his equipment and the look of his load,
the final once-over, he climbs up in the cab.

A new high score, a new record time.
… and a free game, tomorrow.

William Padgett, 15 June 2005

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