We would set out early
After a hard breakfast of whatever was left
From last night’s sacrifice
Shoes strapped tight
Socks pulled up high
Ball caps pulled low
School backpacks on our backs
Trash bags in each hand
Walking along the long country roads
Watching the ditches for cans and bottles

Once we saw a great big old barn owl
Laid down from its final flight
Feathers mixed in the canal water
Talons still so wicked to be seen
Even after it had drawn its last grasp
Always there was newspaper pages everywhere
Like autumn leaves in better neighborhoods with lawns and trees
Receipts and pieces of phone books
Parking tickets and fliers for carwashes and politics
Another time we found the registration packet
For Grandma Wieber’s car
And then there was the time we found a roll of ones
That counted out to twenty
That made for a good day
We ended up with Hamburger
To put in the Helper all that spring time week

We would count the cars as they passed
Colors makes and models Slug Bug!
All so important and serious
Chariots of well to do representations
Of another class of people
As they sped on by sometimes a face
Pressed against the glass
Eyes wide and marveling at us
While we walked along the endless road
Stretching out as long as the San Joaquin Valley
Cans in our backpacks
Cans in the garbage sacks
Heading to the General Store
To cash them in
Just to turn around and begin
The long walk along the highway
Back to cinder block home again
©, 2014

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