Photo by Malidate Van on


  1. In the store:

“Oh, yes,” said the manager,

“we’ll take the old bed away.

Just tip the guys twenty dollars each.

That’s what they usually get.”


“What will you do with the bed?”


“If it’s in good shape,

we put it on Craigslist.

We leave it out back.

People pick it up.

And if not,

they take it apart

and recycle what they can.


“It’s a good bed.”


  • Advertisement:

Free: king size bed

Includes mattress and frame

Must go by Sunday


I want this bed! Please!

Phone call:

I have ms.  I’ve been sleeping

on a mattress on the floor.

My dad is coming this weekend.

My son and my dad can get it.


Do you still want the bed?


No reply. She’s dissolved.



Please send photo,

phone number.

I send a photo.

He calls.

We have a great conversation.

He calls back.

His wife doesn’t want it.


  • Delivery:

Two jolly movers

heave the king size mattress

over the balcony.


“The manager said—”


“Nah, it’ll go to the dump.”


“But he said—”


“Uh-uh, the dump.”

They load the good mattress

into the van

I picture it tossed onto

black bags of garbage.

Maybe they’ll keep

the box spring and frame.



It was a good bed.

It should have been passed on.

I now carry it on my back

along with all the other

plastic and garbage

I’ve discarded.



Photo by cottonbro on


I have permission to post this true story. Names have been withheld.


Electric shaver buzz hums along my scalp.  Hairs trickle and prickle down.

When I am shorn short, writing a check, I ask the stylist, “What’s the story of your tattoo?”

She has a Native American woman’s portrait in full fur and feather headdress from shoulder to elbow.

“Oh, I’ll tell you the story,” she says, sitting in one of the styling chairs. “When I was twenty, I decided that I wanted to be a permanent make-up artist.”

“Like tattooing eyeliner and eyebrows?” I ask.  “A friend of mine did eyeliner.”

“Yeah, but you can do a lot more than that.  Lip liner and shading, and blemish erasing.  It’s awesome.  So, I went to a training school.  And as part of the training, we had to practice on each other.  I chose a Tree of Life for my back.  Each of the students got so many minutes to work on my back.”

 I’m already thinking, this is not going to turn out well.

“Of course, I couldn’t see what they were doing.  They put all these stupid things hiding in the tree branches, like an emoji happy face, cartoon characters, and some joker tattooed a penis on my shoulder.”

At this point, I’m wondering why she didn’t look at her back while they were doing the tattoos.  I don’t ask, though.

“This happened ten years ago.  I didn’t let anyone see my back for ages.  I never wore a bathing suit or a sundress.  I was so embarrassed and angry.

“I took them to court, and I won.  They paid the fine, but they never showed any remorse.  They still thought it was a big joke.

“Finally, I showed the tattoo to my boyfriend’s friend who was a tattoo artist.  He didn’t laugh.  My boyfriend paid him to fix the Tree of Life.  And this one, the woman on my shoulder and arm? That’s my grandmother.  I’m part Romanian and part Native American.  See—she covers up the pee-pee that was right here.”



Photo by J Lee on


It starts with creased, yellowed papers of students’ work

stacked in a wire file basket

It’s the end of August, time to prepare

for the new kids coming in.

“Toss it all,” says her colleague from across the hall,

as he strips the bulletin boards bare.

She picks up a wrinkled sheet, reads

My mom got yelow paynt for the kichn.


Yellow paint splatters, spilling that memory

of her ex, with the walrus mustache.

And when he bends toward her,

the father of her aborted child,

the wild-haired Lebanese

who cajoles, “Tell me

how many men you’ve slept with.”

And when she counts them off

on her fingers,

he slams the ladder to the floor

(they are painting his bedroom yellow)

and calls her “slut” and “whore.”


The ladder shatters into spikes of glass

from the windowpane

he’s punched with his fist.

He bleeds on the yellow pillow she made for him,

with his name embroidered in Arabic,

that he’s cut open with a Chef’s Best knife.

“See what you made me do,” he says.

“See what you made me do.”