the trash men

By Charles Bukowski 1920–1994 Charles Bukowski
here they come
these guys
grey truck
radio playing

they are in a hurry

it’s quite exciting:
shirt open
bellies hanging out

they run out the trash bins
roll them out to the fork lift
and then the truck grinds it upward
with far too much sound . . .


they had to fill out application forms
to get these jobs
they are paying for homes and
drive late model cars

they get drunk on Saturday night

now in the Los Angeles sunshine
they run back and forth with their trash bins

all that trash goes somewhere

and they shout to each other

then they are all up in the truck
driving west toward the sea

none of them know
that I am alive

REX DISPOSAL CO.

"the trash men" by Charles Bukowski, from Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame: Selected Poems 1955-1973. Copyright © 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1974 by Charles Bukowski, Used by permision of HarperCollins Publishers, www.harpercollins.com.

Source: Burning in Water Drowning in Flame: Selected Poems 1955-1973 (Black Sparrow Press, 1996)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Charles Bukowski 1920–1994

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Activities, Class, Jobs & Working

Poetic Terms Imagery, Free Verse

 Charles  Bukowski

Biography

Charles Bukowski was a prolific underground writer who used his his poetry and prose to depict the depravity of urban life and the downtrodden in American society. A cult hero, Bukowski relied on experience, emotion, and imagination in his work, using direct language and violent and sexual imagery. While some critics found his style offensive, others claimed that Bukowski satirized the machismo attitude through his routine use . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Activities, Class, Jobs & Working

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Imagery, Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.