2020 Open Call , Poems - Charles Halsted



Weekly Trash Rumble

By Charles Halsted

When I awake each Monday morning at six, I hear a faint
rumbling a block away, the sounds of the trash pickup truck,
making its rounds house after house, stopping in front of
every one, where its huge half-circle claws reach out, grasp
each trash container, lift it up twenty feet, dump its contents
into the wide gaping maw that opens behind its cab.


The three closed bins I’ve placed on the street contain empty
cans, once holding peaches and soups, last week’s newspaper
pages, plastic bags of food scraps and wilted roses, other trash
that might attract rodents, cats, dogs, raccoons, even skunks.
Now gazing out at the street, I hear the rumbling of a trash truck
coming. I rush to the sidewalk, wave at the Black driver completing
his task. Though we have been separated for centuries by skin color
and class, he smiles broadly into his side mirror, waves back.


Return of the Crows

Wings flapping in unison, twenty-six pitch-
black harbingers of doom swoop across the
sky from the west, cast moving shadows
over vast fields of growing golden wheat


In the foreground, a tree-lined roadway winds
back through the wheat, disappears in the distance,
approaching its destination, the final resting ground
for all beings who lived and have died.


The year is 1890, the artist’s last conception, his
last revelation, his impending suicide. One hundred
thirty years now past, the scourge of death is back,
worldwide,invisible, insatiable.



Charles Halsted is a retired academic physician. His work has appeared in thirty-four poetry journals, in a chapbook entitled Breaking Eighty, and a in full book entitled Extenuating Circumstances. A second full book is in press.


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