Sunday, February 28, 2010


I used to garbage pick for "stuff".
In the alley on hot summer mornings...
I looked in the garbage cans, being careful to avoid maggots, and dog shit.
I found pop bottles, discarded bicycles, old tools, records, and all kinds of hardware, like washers, nuts-and-bolts, lumber, and nails.

One of the greatest treasures I ever found was a discarded vial of mercury.
I unknowingly poisoned myself by spilling it in the palm of my hand.
I watched its magical properties endlessly...until my mom shrieked with terror one day and took it away from me. For a long time, she observed me closely for odd behavior, caused by possible brain damage. Kids can be mean to a poor kid. I learned anger and hatred for my peers at a very young age. They always laughed at the patches on the knees of my jeans, and one day a few of them jammed dog shit into my cheap baseball mitt. I cried as I cleaned it out. I used a lot of soap and water in the washtubs in the basement. I baked the glove in the sun for a few days. Then I oiled it up. It was as good as new, but when I used it again, the kids laughed at me, more than they had before. I stayed in the house a lot that summer. I took solace in Jack London, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Mad Magazine, cheap candy, and masturbation.

from: "The Journey...Memoirs of a South Side Chicago Kind of Guy"...available on

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