I remember a friend of mine in college who toyed around with the idea of basing a short film on the role garbage plays in our day to day life. “In a way,” he said, “we expect a garbage can to save our souls.” We talked for hours on this concept, me bringing up how I have family living on the border, some of whom have lived in shacks on the edges of landfills.
Reading this week’s poem – “Garbage Dump” by Javier Etchevarren – I returned to these ideas on reality as well as the realities that come with these ideas. The stylistic choices Etchevarren makes really come together with the content. The lack of punctuation and capitalization really put an emphasis on the line that isn’t always effective when done by others, but he nails the nuance available in that move. Subtly, the meditation on the social goes beyond the metaphorical to imply an overall gravity to existence that turns the world upside down.
Garbage Dump – Javier Etchevarren *
dessert for the starving
where there are people there’s garbage
where there are people there’s hope
including the hope to live off garbage
surplus of misery
the despicable man is the celebrity of throwaways
appliances gone senile, the latest styles in shreds, storm clouds
of plastic, maggot bonfire
to pass through life is to feed a garbage dump
laying out provisions
for an impoverished bacchanal
* translated by Don Bogen
p.s Check out more of Don Bogen’s translations of Etchevarren featured on Poetry Daily here.
Etchevarren will five poems total in the upcoming anthology América invertida: an anthology of younger Uruguayan poets.