Thursday, August 6, 2009

Poetry Friday: Embarrassing Then, Funny Now

Yesterday, we got a post card in the mail announcing monthly bulk trash pick-up. As I thought about the items I might set out, a childhood experience came back to me.. I remembered the embarrassment and horror that my friends would find out our family secret, but now it's just plain funny. I couldn't get the formatting to work the way I wanted it to, but here's what I wrote in my journal:


Tuesday nights after supper,
our family went shopping—
cruising rich neighborhoods
scanning garbage heaps like pirates
searching for trash night treasures.

There! Mom would squeal,
That vinyl chair is perfect!

We’d coast along the curb
so Dad could get a better look,
Yep! Looks ALMOST new!

In a breath,
he was out of the car,
our prize hoisted into the trunk
the lid battened down with rope—
we were ready to sail

(so embarrassing)
Dad knocked on the door requesting
permission to pick through
a pile full possibilities.

Dad could fix anything
worn out washers
broken bikes
toasters, TVs—

Our house a bounty
of other people’s

I worried my friends
would spot

And wished
just once—

We could shop
in a store
like they did.


  1. Linda, This made me laugh because I have fond memories of "Dumpster Diving." The best was at Western Maryland College when the seniors moved out. A thrifty girl could find all sorts of treasures!

  2. Oh, Linda--what a poignant poem. Funny and bittersweet, too, because you can just feel the embarrassment that a kid feels at this. Lovely job!

    (And our budget's in poor shape. We may be treasure hunting soon!)

  3. Maria, I remember you (or someone) else telling me about that years ago. My family actually went to the dump (back in the day when you were free to wander through the heaps) to search for treasures too. I remember that awful smell. Once we found a TV, and it worked!

  4. Laura, thanks for your comment. Oh, I hope it doesn't come to that, but if it does, let me know. I have some hunting tips! : )

    (With only one income for the past 10 months,I might be out there hunting right along side you!)

  5. Enjoyed the poem. I see I've been missing something by not paying more attention to my neighbors on trash pick up day :)!

  6. a pile full of possibilities... yes! I enjoyed this poem very much.

  7. As a kid, I'd have been mortified, too. As an adult (and one with the ability to shop in stores, even), I confess to having rescued the odd item on the night before trash day - they include a large oak table (needs to be refinished) and a collapsible bookcase (nothing at all wrong with it, but they were getting ready to move, so out it went).

  8. Jama, you know after all these years, I still can't help but look at what people throw out. You can find some pretty good stuff. I think if I hadn't had that childhood experience, I'd be doing some "shopping." : )

    Irene, thanks for stopping by and for your kind comment.

    Kelly, I think the experience is different when your a kid and have to do it because you're too poor to buy anything new.

    Sounds like you found some real treasures, especially the oak table. That's so much better than adding perfectly good furniture to our all ready full landfills.

  9. Hi Linda,

    I'm enjoying visiting your site. Very nice how you have moved past the embarrassment of this, but you can still capture how you felt. Also, I really liked Preparing A Lesson on Drug Abuse.

    Great work!

  10. Thanks for stopping by, Tabitha!