Back in the seventies I worked as a linotype operator in a print shop in Texarkana, Arkansas. Melvin was the cities’ trashman. Everyday he would take the trash from business that had been collected. I can still visualize that man. He was regarded as trash and was spoken to in like manner. I felt sorry for him. Everything in the poem is true except for the scene where he saved the little girl.
You could hear him coming down the road,
In his flatbed, boards up the sides, he comically rode.
A cigar he had found clamped firmly in his teeth,
Of which there were few, and those colored peat.
A odd fellow if there ever was one you wanted to see,
Melvin, the Trashman did not sport a college degree.
In ragged clothes worn haphazardly on his body,
So tattered even the Salvation Army though shoddy.
Respectable folks turned their heads, held their breath,
He stank some and looked like something from Macbeth.
But he was there every day picking up business' trash,
Loaded it in his truck, the store owners paid cash.
His skin was grimy, ashy gray and speckled with warts,
And the children, cruel one and all, used him for sport.
Melvin just grinned and went about his job, cigar set,
Never knowing that we thought him a potential threat.
Oft times we wondered if ever he was a gorgeous guy,
A glow in his cheeks, mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
Before life's many troubles weighed heavily on Melvin,
He quit the struggle and sunk into a bottle of cheap gin.
Some whispered of a lovely wife many years gone by,
A soul mate who kept him happy with the softness of a sigh.
That story caused us to look and waggle our brows,
Laugh at the thought, "My, she must have been a sow."
Melvin showed up every day, foul weather or fair,
Picking up the town's waste, a no-show extremely rare.
His comments were kept quiet except to a mangy old cat,
Sitting on the seat beside him hoping to at least find a rat.
He talked to the feline like you and I would converse,
Every now and then he'd throw in an out and out curse.
The cat, name of Beelzebub, arched his back and hissed,
At naughty children when they followed and dissed.
Our town's self image was important, that's why the chagrin,
About the town's garbage collector, the Trashman Melvin.
But the dirty old man worked cheap and that was a plus,
As long as he tended to his business and never spoke to us.
It was on the Fourth of July celebration and patriotic picnic,
Melvin was on the edge, out of sight, the towns’ bootlick.
When the festivities were over and all had gone home,
He would begin his work, the festival's patriotic gnome.
No one was looking when Joan, the mayor's only daughter,
Got much too close to the edge and fell into the water.
She screamed and everyone was too stunned to respond,
Melvin thought fast and dove into the muddy millpond.
Treaded the deep water until someone finally took little Joan,
We gathered around her, didn't see Melvin sink like a stone.
The whole town turned out for the trashman's funeral showcase,
I looked around, even there disrespect, not a tear in the place.
©Jerry Pat Bolton
~ If they give you ruled paper, write sideways. ~
[This message has been edited by JerryPat2 (04-18-2017 05:55 PM).]