Origin Stories – Joanne Durham

Origin Stories for May
    by Joanne Durham

    Creepy old guy’s digging through the garbage at 6:00 am—
    Bill complains
    on the locals’ page.
    Neighbors suggest he’s an artist, gathering tin to shape
    into tourist treasures, replace creepy
    with harmless, quiet, down on luck,
    vow to leave sorted cans along his route, even say his name.

    Bill retorts SO WHAT DO I TELL MY KIDS?
    preparing for school in morning shadows.

    I reply:
    Go to school, my dear ones, learn to salvage
    the bounty that belongs to us all. Scrounge
    through rubbish to find it, don’t be shooed away
    like a swarming fly.
    It’s your world to retrieve.

    *"Garbage" – First published in Kosmos Quarterly, and included in my new chapbook, 
    On Shifting Shoals (Kelsay Books January 2023)

Origin Stories – Garbage

Sometimes you see or hear something and you just know it’s crying out for a poem. That’s what happened with “Garbage”. I read on a local social media site a neighbor’s complaint about a man going through his trash can in the early morning. What struck me were the responses he got from other people who had empathy with the old man. The author of this post responded with “so what do I tell my kids?” and that did it – I knew I had to make a poem out of how I would respond to his question. I wanted to take it to a broader context of what we teach our kids, the importance of teaching them to think for themselves, dig deeply into history and not accept stock answers to difficult issues in our society.


Joanne Durham is the author of To Drink from a Wider Bowl, winner of the Sinclair Poetry Prize (Evening Street Press 2022), and On Shifting Shoals (Kelsay Books 2023). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Poetry South (Pushcart nomination), NC Literary Review, Gyroscope, Dodging the Rain, Whale Road Review and many other journals and anthologies. She lives on the North Carolina coast, with the ocean as her backyard and muse. Learn more about her work at  https://www.joannedurham.com/.

https://www.joannedurham.com/poetry-books (information and ordering for books)




Gyroscope Review Spring 2023 Issue Now Available

Previous Origin Stories

April 1 – Wanda Praisner

April 2 – Howard Lieberman

April 3 – L. Shapley Bassen

April 4 – Sharon Scholl

April 5 – Stellasue Lee

April 6 – Jeanne DeLarm

April 7 – Virginia Smith

April 8 – Patricia Ware

April 9 – Mary Makofske

April 10 – Ann Wallace

April 11 – Jessica Purdy

April 12 – Lakshman Bulusu

April 13 – Kim Malinowski

April 14 – Anita Pulier

April 15 – Martha Bordwell

April 16 – Anastasia Walker

April 17 – Annette Sisson

April 18 – Shaheen Dil

April 19 – Claudia Reder

April 20 – Cathy Thwing

April 21 – Sarah Snyder

April 22 – Susan Barry-Schultz

April 23 – Laurie Kuntz

April 24 – Maryann Hurtt

April 25 – Yvonne Zipter

April 26 – Jess Parker

April 27thKelly Sargent

April 28thRobbi Nester

April 29thLaurie Rosen

April 30thJames Penha

May 1stOisin Breen

May 2ndJennifer Shomburg Kanke

May 3rdKaren Paul Holmes

May 4thJudy Kronenfeld

May 5thJulie Weiss

May 6thNancy Botkin

May 7thJonathan Yungkans

May 8thGloria Parker

May 9thAlfred Fournier

May 10thGloria Heffernan

May 11th Carol Deering

May 12th Alison Stone

May 13th Annamaria Formichella

May 14thKenton K. Yee

Previous NPM celebrations from Gyroscope Review

Let the Poet Speak! 2022

Promopalooza 2021

Poet of the Day 2020

Poets Read 2019

National Poetry Month Interview Series 2018

Book Links Party 2017

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