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.”

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