by Daniel Romo

I hopped into the dissection tray. Played push-pin splayed amphibian when Mr. Sears asked for volunteers. What better way to answer questions than to become them?

Lift and cut through the muscles and breast bone to open up the body cavity. Mine was mainly hollow. I’d been guinea pig before; gutted by an overzealous 7th grader. My front, now more scar than stomach. It was the year the space shuttle exploded, and I was the unsuspecting fuselage. Might’ve been the year man landed on the moon, and I was virgin soil stabbed with the American flag.

Find the left atrium, right atrium, and ventricle of the heart. I had no sense of patriotism but I lived true blue for my Dodgers, and lab partner, Debbie, even though she scribbled she loved someone not me all over her Pee Chee.

Find an artery attached to the heart and another artery near the backbone. It was the year The Cure sowed the seductive seed in my ear, and I grew a hallway of high school scenarios to bloom to fruition in which Debbie would say, “I’ll run away with you. I’ll run away with you.” Instead I joined cross-country and took third in state.

Dissect a thigh, and trace one nerve into a leg muscle. But it could’ve been the adolescent years I chased after Jane J. And Debbie was someone I invented to ease the pain of every girl who never wrote my name on anything they possessed: a folder, a note, a hand.

Clean up your work area and wash your hands before leaving the lab.

Daniel Romo is an MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte, but represents the LBC. His poetry can be found or is forthcoming in Gargoyle, The Los Angeles Review, MiPOesias, Fogged Clarity, Scythe, and elsewhere. His first book of poetry, Romancing Gravity, is forthcoming from Pecan Grove Press. More of his writing can be found at