John Olivares Espinoza

Riding with My Brother to the Dump

I           Dump Truck


A white Chevy, the cab burdened

With a week’s worth of yard clippings.

My brother Luis races the wind,

Floors it downhill

Spraying grass on the highway—

Gardener’s rain.



II         Clothes


Flat ball caps laid low.

Old jeans passed down from brothers

To whomever they fit best.

Plastic supermarket sunglasses

Reflect shirtless children

Slipping pebbles in their mouths,

The salty plums of earth.



III        The Dump


The truck’s hydraulics,

A weightlifter’s metal arms

Pressing the cab,

Garbage slides slowly—

Spinach from a can.

Wet clumps stubborn

As confessions to a priest

To broom off.

I slip on the fermentation

We call lawn beer.


IV        Us Brothers at the Dump


Hi-tops stomp around

Uncovering plastic army soldiers

Amputated from a backyard ground war,

Barbie dolls headless & stripped.

Dad speaks to an old man

Who sits in a folding chair fanning flies

With a piece of Frosted Flakes box.

We ask, where are those missing heads?



V         Arriving Home


We drive away at dusk

To the final segments of Batman,

To flat TV dinners,

And more work to do.

Drive away to our silence

Broken by yawns, exhausted

For having been so young

And made to mingle in such a place

Where all good efforts

Settle quietly bowed to the sun,

To become nothing—

Land filled with former desires.




“Riding with My Brother to the Dump”  first appeared in Heliotrope, Vol 7, 2003.