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Blue, Green, Red and Purple: Street Litter

Betty Collins’s sobering poem raises a question. Do you have to be good to do good?

For more of Betty's outstanding poems please click on Blue, Green, Red And Purple in the menu on this page.

Listen. I don’t like waste. So
when I lived where there were a lot
of starving people littering the streets
wherever traffic lights blushed green and red,
where children shook and rattled coca -cola tins with slots
slammed in the top, and some drivers were smart enough
to keep bags of oranges and/or lollies on hand under the dash
to hand out, silence the nuisance - very sensible;
I also heard that the street children sold sex to willing buyers –
‘car-jockeying’ - and if they were never
heard of again, who would know? Or care???
In this place, when I cleaned up my kitchen for the day,
it was convenient to heat up and pack the scraps and leftovers
in used plastic containers, and hand the parcel out of the window
at the nearest intersection. Nice in summer.
But on a night that it was early dark
with rain pelting down and thick ripples washing across the
deserted wintry streets , when, desolate and alone on the rain-cleansed lawn
of a well-mown traffic island I saw a stinking piece of human excrement
drain a piss-fumed bottle and fling it away glistening , shining red and blue -
I cursed him for his dirt and evil poverty, and could not accept his
gracious summer sun of a gap-toothed smile croaking ‘God bless you,
merrem’ as I pushed the bundle through the narrowest slit of meanly
lowered window, wound it rapidly back again, scowling,
stepped on the gas, and scurried back to my warm and well lit home.


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