Tagpoetry

Service Smiles: Beauty among the garbage

Service Smiles is an answer to the question What did I learn about Customer Service this week?


The Montgomery County Division of Solid Waste Services has an email list. They give updates to trash and recycling pickups.

Their notifications are clear and concise. It keeps me informed to any variations in the pickup schedule due to weather or other issues.

This is the most mundane of updates. There’s nothing sexy or exciting about trash and recycling pickups. Each new notice comes with a poem.


Alone, walking purposely uphill toward the bus stop,
Heavy grocery bags pulling your arms straight down.

So cold. Six degrees. They call it the Siberian Express.

I see you, and I gesture for you to climb into my back seat; I’ve replaced two regulators now, trying to roll down a frozen window.

“Where to?” “The bus stop.” “Where to, after that?” “The county road,” you say.

I make quick calculations of miles, of time, of traffic, of the dreaded round-about, And, against my cautious self, say I will take you home.

We travel together to get you there, and you tell me

You’re an unemployed social worker,
Your car is no longer useful,
You have health problems,
And you have grown children.

Now, in your 70’s, you live alone.
And they are doing well, so far away.

“No jobs around here, if you want to get ahead.”

Of me, you know nothing, except that I, too, am alone, With children doing well, so far away.

It seems enough.

—Patricia Simoni, “Timeshare”, recommended by subscriber DM


It’s nothing exciting. It’s not big and flashy and it won’t change minds or win hearts. But it made me smile.

The first few times I didn’t even read the email down far enough to see the poem. I saw it in the last one and went back and checked and there’s a poem in each message.

This mailing list is great customer service work. It fulfills its mission quickly. It says here is the current waste pickup schedule. And it adds some fun, ending with a poem.

This is great work and I salute whomever started this trend and hope they keep it up.

Dreamland

While reading Patrick Rhone’s excellent piece Listen to What You Love I took his advice to heart and adopted his playlists. In addition to Merlin Mann’s lists Revenge of the Smart Playlist and Music Only. In the process I rediscovered Robert Miles and his Dreamland album.

This album has always held a special place in my heart. It has not one but two version of Children. The 6:19 original and 7:05 minute Dream Version are both excellent. I was first introduced to Robert Miles by the first girl I ever dated. She had a tape of the Children single which I immediately fell in love with.

After hearing and falling deeply for the song, I went out to find the rest of his work. I picked up the Dreamland album and the follow-up 23am.

Robert Miles weaves a deep tapestry of “dream trance” that could easily be the whimsical soundtrack to my dreams and thoughts. The music far out lasted the relationship. Though, I had forgotten about the man and his moving, atmospheric soundtracks until today.

I fell into the world of Robert Miles and trance around the same time my interest in writing, specifically poetry was blossoming. It was also around this time a friend and I formed a band. It was an outlet more for my writing and singing than anything else as I lack any form of instrumental musical talent.

In the early days of my writing I would often use an instrumental piece as inspiration and a framework for what I wrote. This is the case with Children and Fable.

I penned a long, rambling, metaphor-riddled poem called Hip green valley censorship. (I have no idea where I got the name for it.)

Hip green valley censorship

Tell me a fable about a time when we were young
Tell me about all the battles in your mind we won
Because I sit here and my brain is working so hard
Trying to find a reason to keep going on
I see you trembling in the rain
I see the tear drops fall upon your page of pain
Poetical Girl locked in a TV world
I don’t know if I will ever make things the same
Poetical girl locked writing in the rain
Sitting out by the town fountain
As I look down from the mountain
As I sit silent serene
All of the raindrops fall upon the valley green
With jealousy they all want to be me
But I’ll never want to be them
They had you locked up in their boxes
They don’t even remember their names
All the girls all the boys are anything at all
They’re all too watered down
I’ve got some reason to come down for you
As I come down to the valley one day
I find a reason to stay
You were just a poetry girl
Writing in a TV world
Internet running through your head
I can’t believe that you’re not dead
You thought about it every night
Thought about how it would be so nice
To take the gun out back
Put the gun up to your head
Written letter explaining you’re dead

And now they wonder why
They never saw the tears you would cry
Never find the notebooks
Never find all the pained looks
They’ll never see all your pages written in agony
As you sit there in the rain
Rain Fountain Serene Mountain
I don’t know what is real
Poetry girl TV world
I just want to feel
I don’t know I don’t care I need your feelings
Plastic Mechanical Animals Everywhere
I know you need me silent serene
As you walk through the village screaming
Silent crowd Screaming crowd
Tanks patrol your thoughts now
Censorship Everyone’s hip Try to be a pretty one
I don’t know if you’d be free
Sitting up on the mountain with me
Sitting on the mountain in the rain
Better than being screaming in pain
I don’t know I think that I’m insane
I looked down into the valley one day
I saw the procession running away
I saw the place where you’d stay
Rest in Peace Poetry Girl Rest in Peace from all the world
Rest in Pieces Poetry Girl from that ferocious world
Now you’re safe in the ground today
They’ll never miss you
They’ll never need you
They’ll never realize
Who you were
What you are
What you wrote and how it justified your actions
But they never found the book
Never seen honor the dream
On the mountain where I sit silent serene
Tank patrolling silent dreaming crowd
Everyone knows that they’re dead down there
Running around with no head
Running around like they’re dead
Everyone knows that I’m insane
I sit there screaming in the rain

Music is and always has been the backdrop to my life. It has gotten me through the good times and the bad. It has been my only friend and my accomplice to artistic works. I have leaned on it when I needed the boost or to mask my emotions.

Music has shaped much of who I am today. Looking back through my collected discs, downloads, and scrobbles speaks volumes about my mood and mental state through different parts of my life.

I deeply identify with certain albums based on where I was and what was happening.

Papa Roach’s Infest will always be the soundtrack to my first stepfather’s death.

Wumpscut’s Die in Winter was the backdrop to my grandmother’s passing.

TLC’s CrazySexyCool was the trip to Arizona.

The Offspring’s Ignition will always be my first foray into my own musical choices.

Presidents of the United States of America’s Self-titled album goes together with The Offspring as they were sides A and B to a cassette tape a high school friend made me for a long bus ride on a field trip.

Nine Inch Nails will always be the backdrop to my life. I took to Trent Reznor’s music and have never let go. The beauty in the pain and the release in the anger. His vicious screams that melt away into the sweetest of melodic journeys. NIN will always be part of my musical genome and my life.

Marilyn Manson was revolution and rebellious teen years and the quest to look deeper and find meaning behind shock.

Robert Miles is love and artistry and emotion.

Third Eye Blind, Smashmouth and FAT will always be my first concert.

Saul Williams is poetry and intelligence wrapped in ferocity and power.

Godhead was the first (and only) CD released show I’ve ever seen and the only band I’ve been a street team member for.

Matchbox Twenty managed to weave themselves into my life in ways I never understood until years later. While attending a show with my then-girlfriend my wife was also there, though we had no idea our paths would cross again.