It is early on a Thursday morning,
And the great weekly scavenger hunt resumes.
In their battered and aged pickup trucks
Small brown hooded men
Prowl the suburban neighborhoods of
One of America’s richest counties.
Their hunt must begin in darkness because
Three waves of county trucks
Will be coming soon,
For the yard waste,
The fallen leaves and broken branches,
For the recycling,
The paper and plastic and glass and tin,
And finally for the trash itself.
They have come from the south,
These small brown men,
From Mexico and Salvador and Guatemala,
And they have learned that the streets
Are not paved with gold, but
They have also learned that
Small windfalls can appear at lawn edges,
The no longer wanted,
Perhaps never needed,
Stuff of the American middle class.
Tables and chairs and three-wheeled bikes,
Clock radios and television sets,
Toasters and microwaves,
Even the insulated copper wires that
Tied the electronic devices to power.
For the hunters who deal
In scrap metal, there is
The occasional jackpot,
A big gas grill that has
Outlived its usefulness.
To wrestle a big gas grill
Into the bed of a pickup truck
At six o’clock on a Thursday morning,
That is the making of
A very good day.