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Trash
BJ Ward

It was something like love
that called my mother up at 3am
to rise for the Star-Ledger
deliver the papers to the paper deliverers,
her Chevy truck rumbling down Rt. 31,
passing the same cops, the same delivery trucks
heading northbound. It is something like love
that made that memory part of my history–
how many other moments do I have to pull hard on
to remember, like pulling a pike through
swamp water to eat it? Yet that comes so easily,
and now I can say it was love that put potatoes
and spam on the table. And it is love
that makes me cringe at the term “white trash”
because potatoes sometimes were all we could afford
and how we dressed is how we had to dress and I
watched tv a lot because everyone was working
or sleeping off the work and all the money we got
we paid to other white folks who weren’t white trash
because they owned used car lots or worked
as loan officers and even though I am the only one
in the family who even went to college or graduate
school or is a professor and author and distinguished
fellow I am still a dopey student of this world
and love my family and how hard they worked and still work
but really worked then just to be called white trash
while giving me the wings of encouragement
and “day-old shelf” bread in my soup
to make it and write this poem which I write
because I love them and love them deeply,
old no-good-for-nothin’ jagged-toothed white
white white trash that I motherfuckin’ am.

Find out more about BJ Ward here.

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