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  • Tyler Bauer

an origin story

I worked at a chemical plant once

that factory full of bright red and yellow stickers

warning of the dangerous toxins

in the vats and thick steel tanks

coming out in smoke from pillars in the sky

at a set legal limit

we would stand there in the dark of the morning

sipping on black coffee while being blasted by

the thick stench of vaporized carcinogens

the kind that one gets used to

only after the mind deems it no longer a threat

or inevitable

our sticker slapped hardhats the only

signs of self-expression amongst the humming machines

and barbed wire fences

and steel grates a

and tanker-trucks

one man had a sticker on his helmet that said



a scratched-up picture of a vagina

with the words “Don’t be a”

written above

in faded out sharpie

a creek ran through the plant

a sad piece of muddy water feeding into the Ohio

after it cools off the hot engines of the machines

that lined the banks

and carries away excess waste

at a set legal limit

on our part of the corroded bank

there were two Canada geese

who claimed a small patch of grass

honking and spitting and shitting

when we got too close

and when we didn’t

one of these such mornings

the Geese were honking and shitting


when one man broke the silence and said,

“those geese are disgusting fucking things”

“mean as hell, too”

said the man with the genitalia sticker

a big tanker drove by

it was time to get to work


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