Litter (a poem)


I saw them when I embarked on my short neighborhood run this morning.

Those white paper rectangles strewn about the front yard.

I was awash with curiosity, but it was the idle kind.

The kind that asks questions but doesn’t seek answers.

I picked up a lilty jog up and down the poison ivy lined sidewalk, down Stillwell Oaks Drive, past the house with the front yard full of other folks’ discarded treasures,

past the home of the amiable old man who sells my old man neighbor his daily dose of weed, making a mental note of his welcoming house and tidy yard.


By the time I made it back to the winding driveway that calls me its own,

my quickened heartbeat turned my idle curiosity into the active kind.


I stooped low, panting deeply from my pathetic jog, and picked up one paper rectangle,

turning it over in my pinkish palms.


A lottery ticket.


One by one

I bend low

bowing to my plot of Earth as I remove little white stains from her crust.

As I bend for the fourteenth rectangle, my eyes catch the pure whiteness of dozens of tickets-

a trail from our yard to the one of the neighbor with the jolly weed dealer.


This is no longer a moment of apathetic litter patrol.

I am now standing

on Holy Ground.


With the weight of each wispy ticket in my hand,

I am picking up the pieces of my own reckless spending.


The books

the insatiable sandals

the never-ending supply of candles.

They are all lottery tickets in my hand.


I’m staring at the fat hoard of little white rectangles

and I’m overcome by remorse.

I’m sorry for the neighbor who spent fifty dollars on the pieces of paper

the lost pieces of hope

that will land in my recycling bin.

And I’m sorry for the bags and the bags I’ve been unloading from my trunk;

my very own lottery tickets.

  1. I was moved by your post today Johanna! You know though, don’t be so hard on your neighbor who bought the tickets or yourself and your sandal’s treasures. We all have things that make us feel powerful and content that are not bad addictions. We may sacrifice to get them, but they make us happy for some fleeting moments. We are all entitled to some indulgences because this life is a hard one.

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