Darrell Petska

Darrell Petska, a retired university engineering editor, is a 2021 and 2022 Pushcart Prize nominee. His poetry can be found in 3rd Wednesday, Muddy River Poetry Review, Verse-Virtual, Chiron Review and widely elsewhere (conservancies.wordpress.com). Father of five and grandfather of six, he lives near Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife of more than 50 years. 

Rubbish Day

Tuesday here is Rubbish Day.
To the curb each Monday night
we dutifully wheel our rumbly bins.
It's all planned out: pay the tax, consume,
toss what's left to the lumbering trucks
that make it disappear: fait accompli!
Fifty-two Tuesdays each year, we observe
this metropolitan rite, our kids and we
in awe of the trucks roaring along the street,
flexing hydraulic arms heavenward
to drop our dreck into the truck’s maw
feeding off our lives. What a show!
(Poochie hasn’t a clue our rubbish lies
a foot or so beneath his ball-pursuing paws
at the dog park née landfill that supplanted
a wheat field our city claimed for rubbish hauls
Monday-Friday, minus holidays.)
Aside from death and taxes, nothing could be
more certain than Rubbish Day, observed
punctually, religiously—it holds now
that lofty perch the Sabbath commanded
till consumerism supplanted our prayers.

Without Poetry

Would sun simply feel “hot”, snow “cold”,
grass growing “fast”, flowers smelling “sweet”?

How might we succor our minds
struggling to see beyond deadlines,
the mortgage, college expenses, worrisome
pains and the specter of insignificance
tracking our scents, time’s eraser absolute?

Could we stay sober having once
sipped poetry’s wine? Is there a 12-step program
addressing addictions to word and sound,
interventions to short-circuit the lapses?

How long could sobriety last in the face of
silence so deep we might drown?

Maybe there’s a pill to swallow, a yoga practice,
a god or creed to take its place?
Many seem to manage without it, content
with the daily humdrum and heartbeat—poetry
as indecipherable as Rongorongo.

But where could we turn for answers
to unanswerable questions, for questions
to help explain the unanswerable?

Without poetry, what would life seem?
Or might we conclude that life, after all,
is poetry misperceived?

Prevailing Winds

Prevailing winds of summer sweep
clean the big box store’s parking lot,
air-light litter fleeing north
till snagged by the weedy ditch
abutting frontage road already fraught
with filmy shopping bags, snack sacks,
face masks, crinkled water bottles,
candy wrappers, takeout containers,
spent diapers, plus a miscellany
some lawn mower jockey will now
and then reduce to smithereens—
weeds and castoffs ceding briefly
to manicured green shot through with
plastic bits the soil's burrowing denizens
will ingest to their stunted detriment,
then expel to soil that taints the weeds
through which mice nibble and mom birds
scavenge for nesting building blocks—
worm-like plastic strips serving handily,
if also fatally for undiscerning baby birds.
Searing sunrays bleach vagrant plastic
sheathings into leachable, edible
microbits till clement winds turn wintry,
sweeping fugitive litter south
to mingle with the fast food joint's refuse
that swirls into the nearby freeway ditch
winter snows will purify until spring shoots
green and that first absolving mowing
grinds to earth the damning evidence
of our careless hands and myopic minds.

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