By Alan Berecka

Riding on the running board at the back
of the garbage truck was always cooler
than sitting in the un-air-conditioned cab,
so one hot July afternoon as we cruised down
Commercial Boulevard, I was hanging out and on,
mindlessly enjoying the breeze, when two girls
I had gone to high school with, two gals
who I had always figured were way,
way out of my league drove up beside me
in some sporty convertible. The driver
tooted her horn, and both girls waved,
threw me a smile or was it a laugh?
I waved back as they sped away.

At first, I thought, “Wow two beautiful
girls I kind of know just noticed me
and honked hello.” But then I thought,
“Oh my God, two beautiful women
just saw me hanging off the back
of a garbage truck, no wonder they laughed.”

That night my mother noticed I was down,
so she asked me what was up. I tried to hold
my tongue, but after an hour of coaxing,
I expressed my embarrassment over being
seen on the job as a lowly filler of landfills
by two beautiful girls who I knew from school,
and how afraid I was that when they saw me
doing what I was doing, they had started to laugh.
My mom said people laugh for all kinds of reasons.
Maybe a DJ said something funny on the radio.
I would never know. Then she added, “But I am
certain there is no shame in working at any job
from which a man can make an honest wage,
because, son, remember, a living is not a life.

Alan Berecka resides in Sinton, Texas. He earns his keep as a librarian at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi. His work has appeared in such places as American Literary Review, Texas Review and The Christian Century. He has authored three chapbooks, and four full collections. In 2017, he was named the first poet laureate of Corpus Christi, and served in the post until 2019.

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