“Transmutation of Waste” by Leah Mueller


Recycling your IRS
pay or die letters
is an essential part
of being a good American. 

They were made from trees,
ground into pulp, flattened.
Emblazoned with words

like “forfeiture.” Sent
through the hands
of dutiful couriers
from the US government–

postal carriers in
year-round shorts,
sturdy men and women

who avoid your eyes
while they command
you to electro-sign
their sinister plastic devices.

Never keep these notices,
you don’t want your
friends to see them.

Don’t burn them,
it causes global warming.

Don’t throw them away,
they’ll end up in landfills.

Reuse the letters by
putting them in your
blue recycle bin

beside those spent bottles
of wine you couldn’t afford
but drank anyway.

The letter will leave
your hands and travel
to a facility for its revival.

Its smooth, mended surface
beckons false promise,
reincarnation as toilet paper
or perhaps a love letter.

Instead, it will be transformed
into yet another postal edition
of terrible news, since

nothing good ever comes
in the mail anymore.


Leah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer from Tacoma, Washington. She has published books with numerous small presses. Her most recent volumes, “Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices” (Czykmate Press) and “Death and Heartbreak” (Weasel Press) were released in October, 2019. Leah’s work also appears in Blunderbuss, The Spectacle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and other publications. She won honorable mention in the 2012 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry contest. Her new chapbook, “Cocktails at Denny’s” was published by Alien Buddha Press in November, 2019.

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