“Strains the Rope” by Diane Webster


The pickup’s camper shell strains the rope

tied across it from fender to fender

to hold the bulging contents to the bed.

Newspapers threaten to spread pages

like giant phoenix wings emerging

from egg shell flung aside.

The front seat packed for the driver only

in form-fitting newspapers, fast-food cups and napkins

lets the old man owner escape beside

the grove of newspaper stands

carefully checking his pockets

of tissues, napkins, store receipts

for metal quarters, dimes, nickels.

The urge to throw litter beside the truck

to see him snatch it like a pack rat

with a prize scurrying to his nest

overwhelms me enough to check my pockets.