by Daniel Romo

I took three shits today. Full-blown, watery eyes, man-sized. The result of last night's birthday dinner. Who takes three shits a day? My guess is old men, babies, and maybe beavers´┐Żbecause I imagine they work so hard. I once vomited twelve times in one day when I was a kid. Perhaps slightly less. But everything's exaggerated when you're young. Tonight I'm older than ever.

Usually it's just the one in the morning: a pre-shower bowel movement cleanse before work. Because teaching teenagers how to write can be pretty shitty in itself. But the barbecue baby back ribs. Biscuits. Baked beans. Hazardous foods begin with B. Maybe it was a way to release hostility from being pissed at my daughter's softball coach for telling her to point her back elbow up when she hits. Shitty advice. Coach Rick is full of shit! And he doesn't know, or he doesn't care. Either way: a shitbag. I imagine him walking around town—a mound of excrement commanding everyone he comes in contact with to, Point your back elbow up. The mailman during a rainstorm. The busy checker struggling to ring up groceries. His wife crying after an argument. As if pointing the back elbow up is a cure-all for calamity.

I went again before lunch. An intestine full of feces doesn't make for an enjoyable meal. I took a book into the 800 building teachers' bathroom. Locked the door. Lined the seat. Let it go. Other than home, it's the only place I feel comfortable shitting—throne away from throne. I once took the bus home from college because I had to relieve myself. 7.3 miles away. I figured it would take 45 minutes to get to my toilet. I missed Introduction to the Novel, but I was able to make it home in time to shit and catch the end of The Young and the Restless. Shit shit. Win win. I didn't go back to campus that day; I ended up with a C in the class and little insight into Imperialism. Bus rides to and from school always smelled like shit, but I miss those days. I was young. Idealistic. And full our crap. Also a bit restless.

The waiter surprised me with a chocolate cake. He overheard my son mention something about the card he'd given me. He signed it, Congrats. You're one step closer to death. He's the same age as those shitty teens I teach. But he's not so shitty. Mostly a good boy. Though I wonder if I've taught him well. So that when he has a daughter whose coach is telling her to do things incorrectly, he'll stand up for his babygirl, for himself, for what he knows to be right. Tonight I took my third and final shit of the day. Everyone slept and I sat down in the front bathroom I promised my wife I'd clean days ago, but still had not. I thought about how sometimes I'm a shitty husband. A shitty father. A shitty shitbag, myself. I recalled the cake. The candles. The flames that seemed to be taunting me, swaying from side to side like the brass section playing some sort of personalized swan song. Turn out the lights. The party's over. Etc. Etc. Etc…

My life is probably more than halfway over. Each birthday dinner closer to a light lunch wake. So I take my time when I shit. Recalling or not recalling better days. Reflecting on ways life might've gone, but focusing on the direction I want it to take. Expelling all the pent up shit in my life. With a damn good book in my hands, and elbows pointing down. Always, pointing down.

BIO: Daniel Romo’s work appears in Gargoyle, The Los Angeles Review, MiPOesias, Yemassee, and elsewhere. His first book of poetry, Romancing Gravity, is forthcoming from Pecan Grove Press. His second book of poetry, When Kerosene’s Involved, is forthcoming from Black Coffee Press. He bats leadoff and plays shortstop for the Long Beach Barons. More of his writing can be found at