The Grounds Crew, Summer Of '76 (Revised)
Johnny Jackson trimmed the bush
with the new weed-whacker,
then said with satisfaction, 'Finished! '
I turned around and saw
there was nothing left of the bush.
Johnny had just
returned from Vietnam,
and I cringed to think
what he might have done there.
'These people live like pigs! '
the white guys would say
cleaning out a black tenant's
We'd always drive the truck
to places just vacated,
to clean them
and look for loot.
The whole crew would congregate,
with treasure in mind. I got to keep
some Cat Stevens records once,
not a coin valued in that realm,
but when we came upon some object
or appliance of general interest,
you could see the covetous gleam
appear in every eye. Not immune,
I'd start thinking of
'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.'
At age 28, I was a guy
picking up paper with one of those
sticks that has a nail on the end.
My partner and I
posed for our photo
I still have—
no worldly ambtion at all.
My dad was the Manager
of the 1900-unit complex.
It was his job to worry
for a big New York company.
A salesman came by once
with a lage machine he said
would end our lawn problems forever.
'By God, let's do it! '
said Dad, red-faced and earnest,
thousands in a second.
We all knew nothing anyone did
would make a difference.
No one cared enough.
My partner and I would stop
and talk to girls. One of them
invited us to a party
at her place one night.
Finding it too noisy there,
I tried to leave in half an hour,
but she seemed to take my attempt
as some kind of personal affront,
and I went back to 'mingling'.
Half hour later, I tried again.
This time, she accepted
my 'good night' graciously.
My visit had now crossed
some secret threshhold
of demonstrated respect,
known only to her.