Can we ever forget the smelly old dump,

a veritable cornucopia of stuff

where the price was always right?

The Cambridge Dump looked like

a war-ravaged zone: smoldering fires,

air filled with acrid stink of toxic fumes,

an uninviting scene until one invariably

exclaimed: “How could anyone have

thrown that out?”

Flocks of seagulls swarmed overhead

swooping down to feed on rotting cobblers,

turnips and fish entrails; a bulldozer snarls

and rumbles shoving mounds of rubbish

into huge pits creating a crazy-quilt jumble,

a treasure trove for an archeological dig.

Scavenging through many summers

I have filled a barn with artifacts

which tell the story of life in the distant past:

an oak washstand found with one door

flapping in the wind, hand carved eel-spear

sticking out of the remains of a crumpled

out-house, farm tools with well worn wooden

handles that have developed a leathery patina,

three legged milking stool covered in dried

cow dung, crushed hand made tin candle mold,

rusty Model-A honk-honk-a googah horn,

pump organ with busted bellows and burled

walnut Victorian spindles and filigree,

hand blown bottles of all shapes and colors

with bubbles luminescent on a window sill

in the morning sun, adze with broken handle,

cracked butter churn, flail and a large variety

of old wagon wheels, some with wooden spokes.

Fires no longer burn at recycling centers,

dumpsters neatly haul stuff antiseptically away.

New rules and regulations even specify for Q-tips

to have a recycled designation.

My prospecting days may be over but the planned

obsolescence of appliances, cell phones and I-Pods

of today may not leave much for prospectors of tomorrow.

Milton P. Ehrlich 199 Christie St. Leonia, N.J. 07605