A couple days ago, I drove around various North Minneapolis alleys with a friend of mine who was showing off his 311 Facebook app.
Dilapidated fence? BAM!
Debris filling a backyard? BAM!
Graffiti? BAM, BAM, BAM! My friend was sending reports to 311 so fast his phone froze up and had to rest for a minute.
Then we came upon a mattress emblazoned with a message in Sharpie marker, and the message was as follows:
Warning: I am over 20 years old & have been peed on more times than I can count.
Let me RIP.
As I silently contemplated those words, my friend said, "Admit it. If you didn't live in North Minneapolis you would miss moments like this."
Something about that moment made me think of Simon and Gurfunkle's song The Boxer, only I thought the words could be changed and it would just be The Mattress.
Here's a little ditty that I came up with...
I am just a mattress
Though my story's seldom told
I been peed upon so long that my springs are full of mold
And I've squandered all my springiness
For a pocket full of promises
All made in the dark
Still a mattress hears everything
And then is disregarded
When I left the factory
I was new and full of joy
But I was broken in by strangers
In a no-tell hotel by the railway station
Laying low, what else does a mattress do?
Lower still when laid directly on the floor
In the places where ragged people take a whore
Lie lie lie
Or should I say lay lay lay
Asking only for blankets and a comforter
I had a job to do
But I was thrown out with the carpets
And right back with the whores on Penn Avenue
I do declare, there were times when I was so loathsome
I felt made out of cat hair
Lay lay lay
Someone's laying out their winter clothes
Wishing the old mattress was new
Wishing they were going home
Where Minnesota winters aren't what everybody knows
Going home, home, I guess my home is now this alley
In the alley stands a mattress
Upon which words are laid
And I carry a stark warning
Of every overfilled diaper that was spilled on me
And I was jumped on 'til I cried out
"I am broken, I have nothing left to give"
Now the mattress in the alley remains
Lay lay lay...