Each month a new motivational
poster above the urinals:
nature scenes with slogans like
DARE TO SOAR. Management
trying to love us.
But someone was taking dumps
in the locker room shower.
A kind of protest. My job:
to muck out the message.
A typical day, I hardly said
anything to anyone
except Henry, the machinist
prophet, who always took
the short view: she’s fuckable,
she’s fuckable, she’s
In the factory, sex worked
like a machine’s heavy
breathing—obvious as the absence
of windows. Tom and Bill were lovers
who had the same small job:
pushing a rod. They wore too-short
denim cut-offs, tube socks,
shirt tails tied into halter tops.
Tom would call ooohhh baby
snatch at my ass when I mopped.
I wanted Michelle, the opposite
of a rich girl, braless, up to
her elbows in toxic acetone
(lunch time, I’d grind into my
writing hand, a kind of one-armed
violence until I’d explode).
Then during the full heat of noon
I’d eat on the bank of a drainage
canal. I was young, lying
in the sweet ditch grass; my feelings
buried deep, deep. I didn’t
want to admit it, but I was
heading straight to the bottom.
As if to prophesy, one day
a whole swollen deer floated by.