Saturday, January 28, 2023

(for Rick Crocker)

Crazy white boy
wild ass redneck
pitchin' garbage cans aroun'
workin' like us, black an brown.

Hundred houses,
four, five cans each,
forty, fifty pounds a can,
call'n you: pussy? or man?

Hundred times four
times fifty pounds:
twenty thousand pounds a day,
tempts you to say, ain't no way.

Like most of us,
for breakfast at
any ice house we get near,
chug-a-lugs a quart of beer.

He can take it,
he got huevos.
It don't matter that he's white.
He can work with us real tight.

He's a brother.
He's got soul.
He believes in me and you.
Ain't ashamed of what we do.

Garbage hitman.
Hauling shit-man.
Grass, booze, head like a feather.
We bust our ass together.

The last gringo like him
was five years ago,
so drunk crazy he lay down on a railroad track.
Train ran over him.
Never saw him again.

November 4, 1981

To Rick Casey

Here is the poem about Rick Crocker, the guy whose wife divorced him when he became a garbage man. (She had other reasons too, but this is the one he gave and it was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back.) Rick really had wanted to become a garbage man since he was a kid. He saw it as an honorable and macho thing. He had just got the job a couple months before when we were having a beer at Los Padrinos (on West Ave.?). He was telling me about how much he enjoyed and what he enjoyed about the work and the guys he worked with. He was particularly proud of having won the hard earned respect the other garbage men gave him. Finally he said, “You got to write a poem about it.” I said okay and about a week later I woke up, my muse had turned itself on, and the poem wrote itself.

I put the poem in a fancy folder for Rick and he showed it off to his fellow workers. Then he stopped when he found out most of them could not read. He said, “I was so embarrassed.”