After today's column -- on a City Council bill to ban plastic bags and polystyrene packing materials -- got a call from Joe Donahue, age 75, of Conshohocken, who wanted me to hear his poem entitled "Paper or Plastic."
Joe says that back in "twenty-oh-four" he was driving between Minnesota and New York, coming back from the senior tour, where he works as a caddy.
"I was by myself, and I was amazed, just absolutely amazed, to see the plastic as you come through the farm lands. They all have the wire fences, and the lakes for cattle and fish farming, and the trees were all hanging this crepe of plastic. I settled down and wrote "Paper or Plastic."
This is why I love having my phone number at the end of these pieces.
With permission from Joe D., as he signs his poems, here goes:
The check-out counter is where it starts
Paper or plastic defines your heart.
You choose plastic and the trouble begins
What happens with that bag is almost a sin.
They say it's stronger, and that much is true
Reusable in ways paper won’t do.
It linens the trash can and carries ice
Stores food in your freezer.
Isn’t that nice.
When finally disposed of its life is not through.
There’s a lot of damage for this bag to do.
It floats in the air until snagged by a branch
Tossing and turning in a grotesque death dance.
Spoiling nature’s beauty with a cancerous spot
Turning a green glenn into a trashy vacant lot.
Tossed into water and carried by tide
It could end up in a fish’s inside.
Killing this creature in a horrible way
Taking his life with no one to pay.
Hauled off to landfills and ploughed underground
Living its plastic life longer than anything around.
So your very next time in the check-out line
Ask for paper and stop the plastic bag crime.
Some other calls were less poetic.
"Don't write about plastic again," warned a lady from South Philly, who said Councilman DiCicco should know better to spend his time trying to ban plastic bags.
"Paper bags bring roaches," she said, "and we don't need any more kinds of bugs around here."
Which is sort of poetic, actually.
Another writer, John Monaghan from Glenside put it this way:
"City Council should stop worrying about duck livers, plastic bags and cigarette butts and challenge citizens to become responsible. Do that and people will respond. Then Council can get on with the serious work at hand."
Meanwhile, I'm not the only person addressing the big issues who hears from fancy organizations. Anthony Preziosi, blogging at My Sick Mind, took a stance about soap dispensers in men's rooms, then got a hit from the Soap & Detergent Association. Which sounds to me like a CIA front if there ever was one.