Loaded on beer and whiskey, we ride to the dump in carloads to turn our headlights across the wasted field, freeze the startled eyes of rats against mounds of rubbish. Shot in the head, they jump only once, lie still like dead beer cans. Shot in the gut or rump, they writhe and try to burrow into garbage, hide in old truck tires, rusty oil drums, cardboard boxes scattered across the mounds, or else drag themselves on forelegs across our beams of light toward the darkness at the edge of the dump. It's the light they believe kills. We drink and load again, let them crawl for all they're worth into the darkness we're headed for.
David Bottoms - 1949-
The river was off-limits, but occasionally a foul ball would fly back
over the press box, over the narrow drive
and down the hill,
and there we were—where what we called the ballpark rock
jutted into the Etowah.
On hot nights the stench would make us gag.
Two miles below the rendering plant
and chicken parts still flooded up in the pool beyond the rock—
clots of dirty feathers, feet,
an occasional head with glazed eyes wide.
We’d hold our noses and try to breathe through our mouths.
Once though, the smell was too much
and we had to give it up.
Listen, it wasn’t what you think. It was only Little League,
and they gave us free ice cream
for retrieving a foul. No, we weren’t overcome
by thoughts of filth, disease,
or fish kills. We were running down a long hill, dodging
trees and undergrowth, trying
to find a ball before it found the river.