I spent about 10 minutes last week chatting with a guy I see collecting cans in front on my grocery store now and again. I asked him a little about his life. His name is Juan, but he told me people call him Can Man. Here's a poem I jotted instead of notes. Thanks Can Man.
Three Days Honest Work
Can Man got a bike and some trash bags, he
Bought ’em with the money he got
Off his Sis’ when he promised to get off
Her couch and find work since he got clean and
His head ain’t fucked no more.
Can Man rides that no brake, $15 dollar
Purple girl’s bike with the fucked derailer
To three 7-11s, two rec centers, and 5 strip
Malls, covering 49 miles a day, and digs
Through trash bins with his hands and a stick.
Can Man hides his full bags in the canyon where
He lives, next to the wagon he boosted that holds his
Clothes, and a pot, and a spoon, two lighters,
Blankets, and a tarp, until he has 50 pounds--about
Five bags full bags of crushed sticky ant-covered cans.
Can Man takes them bags and ties ‘em to his
Bike then rides that purple girl’s bike with
No breaks 10 miles over to AAA Recycling Center
Down on 2nd street and cashes ‘em for twenty-five bucks,
And the use of the shitter and some powdered soap to wash his hair.
Can Man, money in his pocket, rides to a Mexican market to
Buy beans, tortillas, rice, salt, a jalapeño, limes, two apples,
And a single quart of beer to get him through the
Next three days, about how long it takes for another 50 pounds,
Before he returns to his home canyon to celebrate pay day.
JD CLAPP writes in San Diego, CA. His work has appeared in The Milk House, Rural Fiction Magazine, Wrong Turn Literary, Revolution John, The Whisky Blot, among several others. He has forthcoming work in A Common Well Journal, Fleas on the Dog, and Literally Stories. His story "One Last Drop" was a finalist in the 2023 Hemingway Shorts Literary Journal, Short Story Competition.