Suburban Garnish, Dumpster, by Elizabeth Kerlikowske

The senior dumpster can only think Pepto
Bismol
and how does a pink dumpster fight
breast cancer
or is it a metaphor, invading the
perfectly foggy alley with its color, its cloying
unwantedness
. He unwanted the pink
dumpster, girl dumpster at first. The brown
dumpsters bled camouflage into the twilight
harmony of garages and then her appearance
out of nowhere. She’s challenged how the
old row sees itself. Are they nothing more
than refuse holders? Fly harems, mortuaries,
possum palaces. That’s not a life. A kid once
slapped a Greenpeace sticker on the senior
dumpster. Now he points his whale to the
alley and often toward the pink dumpster.
He’s hoping to be tagged; he wants it to be
meaningful but any tag will do. The senior
dumpster admires the girl dumpster and could
fall in love if she just weren’t quite so pink.

***
About “Suburban Garnish, Dumpster”: “I began writing a series of poems about offensive household decorations, which began with bows on houses. It progressed to cement geese, and a friend of mine suggested the pink dumpsters. Even my friends who’ve had breast cancer don’t see the point of them.  I enjoy pretending I’m inanimate objects, and it’s fun to write from their perspectives.”

Elizabeth Kerlikowske is the author of three chapbooks of poetry (Last Hula, Postcards, Her Bodies), a collection of children’s stories (Before the Rain), and a prose poem memoir of her father (The Shape of Dad), all from March Street Press in North Carolina.  Her first full length book of poetry is available from Mayapple Press (Dominant Hand.)  Last Hula was the winner of the 2013 Standing Rock Chapbook Competition.

Her works have appeared recently in Encore, Cincinnati Review, Passager, Poemeleon, and the anthologies “The Disenfranchised” and “Solace.”  She is the president of Friends of Poetry, a nonprofit dedicated to the enjoyment of poetry. The group runs the annual POEMS THAT ATE OUR EARS contest, sponsors a reading series, and chooses one poem each year which becomes a poetry mural on a downtown Kalamazoo wall. The group is also branching out in to small book publication, having just completed a small run for a client of HospiceCare of Southwest Michigan.  Elizabeth completed her doctorate at Western Michigan University in 2007.

Elizabeth Kerlikowske

Elizabeth Kerlikowske

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