Is it bad that in the crash
of trash down the chute I hear
music? The sound of hollow boxes
and old bottles of booze
lulls me, confused, into its groove:
I have trash guilt. I’m culpable. Though
I compost, I sort my
recyclables. I know the truth,
that no amount of used glass
can amount to real absolution.
A friend suggests we throw it
into space as the solution. My date’s dad
is a psycho recycler, I remember
as I pass a strangely fragrant can.
He sorts everything, the chopsticks
and their wrapper separately bagged.
We can’t all be like him. The system
can’t need us to be superman.
Of course I toss my takeout containers
without rinsing the grease first.
What am I if not a busy glutton
for convenience? Waste is as easy
as moldy tomatoes tossed in the bin.
Discarding what I can’t carry.
Cheap furniture. Responsibility.
The ambitious bag of bacteria
to make kombucha I never brewed,
still fizzing miraculously.
I empty myself gladly.
It barrels into a bulge, shows off
the ways we still overflow
with hunger, so much hunger
with nowhere to go.
STEPHANIE NIU is a poet from Marietta, Georgia who earned her degrees in symbolic systems and computer science from Stanford University. Her poems have appeared in The Southeast Review, Poets Reading the News, Storm Cellar, and Portland Review. She works as a product manager in New York City.
Header art: "Unheard Promises" by Jillian LaRussa.