From the collection Picture Making, published 2017. The three photos served as the inspiration for the poem. For more information, look here.
Today We Discuss Role Models
A truly functional object. The garbage truck.
Never mind its bright blue paint
its impossible-to-miss oversized barrel of a body.
Never mind the flashing light on the back
the mud flaps
the solid wave of diesel fumes
it sends over your car as you sit behind it at the traffic light.
It is not embarrassed to be hauling around
things that weren’t good enough for you to keep
the plastic wrap you tore off the package of knives.
A truly functional object. The green-painted mailbox.
Flag up, street number clearly visible as is required by the postal regulations
waiting for the messages from anyone anywhere
no matter what the content.
Messages that may not be good enough for you to keep
and may end up in the garbage. Nonetheless,
if you go to the mailbox
to find it empty, it is a disappointment to you.
None of this is the mailbox’s concern.
A truly functional object. The ring bolt on the gatepost.
Partner to the chain that closes off the parking lot
at five o’clock in November, eight o’clock in July –
park hours being sunrise to sunset.
Impartial, the ring bolt does its job.
If you do not leave before the closing time
the ring bolt
will not worry about how you are going to get home
now that your car is penned behind the chain.
A truly functional object
has no ego
has no vanity
is to be respected
is to be envied.
Take the time to do so.