Revision example

First, mid-process, and as accepted for publication drafts are separated by asterisks.

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Pallets

Pallets, you know, the wood frames used to move stacks of goods around warehouses, into and out of the backs of trucks. They are very low. You could build one by setting three three-foot two by fours on their narrow sides. Underneath them nail three-foot slats at right angles to the two by fours, at each end to end, and across the middle. Lots of slats with space between them. On top of the two by fours nail more slats six or seven, each a few inches from its neighbor. These pallets on the museum floor look to be made of marble. White and black.

I remember trying to learn how to use a pallet jack. They have long levers and three wheels, one at the base of the lever and the other two at the ends of long flat forks. The lever stands up so you can push or pull the pallet riding on the jack. Roll the jack under the pallet, so the forks extend through it. You have to roll over the some of the slats to do this. Pull the lever and the hydraulics will push the wheels down lifting the pallet and whatever is on it enough so it can all be rolled into the dark corner of the warehouse. Once the pallet is in the corner, squeeze the lever on the lever and the wheels will retract, making the jack flat enough again it can be rolled out from under the pallet.

These pallets are made of marble, white and black.

 

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College Bookstore Shipping and Receiving: A Triptych

After Jesse Amado’s Me, We

 

I

After work we would take wooden pallets, carry them to my car. Some were broken beyond use, grey with oil, dirt, and travel. Others were new, prickly, with the faintest smells of pine and diesel. My elderly car was the color of champaign and we crammed them in the back, hauled one last time, for kindling up the canyon. Today all the campsites have metal signs, red letters on a white background: No Burning Pallets. Fires are permitted. Logs. Loosened bundles of newsprint. Not pallets.

 

II

The UPS driver would yell, “Stand aside! Working man coming through!” Little, wiry, a black mustache bigger than anything I could manage even today, he would charge through us, hand truck high with boxes. Before school started each year, he would pull pallet jacks and stacks taller than he was. I remember his sweat. Rarely, when we were the last delivery of his day, he would sit in the office and argue with my boss, his old friend, about unions and government and God and anything to keep having a conversation, to keep silence from between them. He’s retired, hair silver now, but his voice still empties the bladders of college boys.

 

III

You can race pallet jacks. One foot on a fork, pushing with the other, and steering with the tow bar. Carefully. They turn sharp enough to throw you. She taught me this, one of the women who worked there. I traded use of my car for rides to and from the airport at Thanksgiving and Christmas. House sat for her once. Tried to give her cat medicine each day that week. I bought her dinners and we watched Truly Madly Deeply once. Two me’s who never made it to we.

 

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College Bookstore Shipping and Receiving: A Couplet

After Jesse Amado’s Me, We, 1999, granite and marble

 

I.

The UPS driver would yell, “Stand aside! Working man coming through!” Small, wiry, a black mustache bigger than anything I could manage even today, he would charge through us, hand truck piled high with cartons, stacked so tall he would hold the dolly with one hand and stretch the other up to steady the top box. He filled empty isles of the warehouse with piles of crates, shrink-wrapped and shiny white on pallets. Sweat would blacken his uniform, fanning out over his chest like a wise man’s beard. Rarely, when we were the last delivery of his day, he would sit in the office and argue with my boss, his old friend, about unions and government and God and anything to keep having a conversation, to keep silence from coming between them. He’s retired, black hair white now, but his voice still freezes college boys with fear.

 

II.

You can race pallet jacks. One foot on a fork, pushing with the other, and steering with the tow bar. Carefully. They turn sharp enough to throw you. She taught me this, one of the women there. After work, we would carry wooden pallets to my car. Some were broken beyond use, almost black with oil, dirt, and travel. Others were new, prickly, with the faintest smells of white pine and diesel. We crammed them in the back of my car, hauled them one last time, for kindling, up the canyon. I’d let her use my car over Thanksgiving and Christmas break if she’d drive me to and from the airport. House sat for her once. Tried to force-feed medicine to her sick black and white cat each day that week. Chased it under her bed. I bought her dinners and we watched Truly Madly Deeply once. Two mes who never made it to we.

 

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