Jeju Disposal

Orange public compost boxes chatter
in the sunshine by trash and recycling bins
parked on residential streets.
Tempted with a token card, their square lids gape
for pails of peelings, wilted fruit, and table scraps.
In the lighted alcoves after dark, old men sit on camp stools.
They watch soapy dramas and eye passersby,
ready to bark at those who ignore enormous faded banners
that declare specific days for paper, days for glass,
for plastic bottles, wrappers, Styrofoam, and metal.
At midnight these crusty guards ride off on creaking bicycles.
Then stray cats and rubbish scofflaws sneak out
with empty bellies and full bags,
and torn illicit piles overspill the bins at dawn.

Christina E. Petrides

From the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) of Georgia, USA, Christina E. Petrides has lived and worked on Jeju Island, Republic of Korea, since 2017. Her first children's book, Blueberry Man, was published by Tchaikovsky Family Books in 2020; the Korean translation appeared in 2021. More than two score of her poems have been published around the world in the last three years. She co-translated Maria Shelyakhovskaya’s Utverzhdenie v liubvi. Istoria odnoi russkoi sem’i: 1872-1981 (Being Grounded in Love: A History of One Russian Family, 1872-1981), into English manuscript.