2 April


Yesterday I was walking to the library when a man with a box asked me:


“Are you a graduate student?”


“Yes.” (Does it show?)


“Here. You need this.” (Handing me a toothbrush and a written explanation.) “This is your

dental coverage for next year. You a GPA, GRA, what?”


“I’m a GTA at ISU.”


“You guys need to unionize. Call us.” (Walking away)


The University of Illinois’ Graduate Employees’ dental plan was extracted from their next year’s raise. The most remarkable thing about this exchange: the toothbrush. If they can afford to give toothbrushes away their union must be extraordinarily effective. What kindler gentler activism than a free toothbrush. I walked to the library on fire. I once designed small gifts to give to anyone who asked me for change: a cigarette, matches, chocolate, and a dollar packaged in a cassette case. Toothbrushes… I have tried to hold this thought but, ten hours and thirty student papers later, I’m so exhausted I can hardly hold the mechanical pencil.



Newspoetry at Spineless Books