Teeth Wisdom

In commemoration of the extraction of my wisdom tooth

I have razor blades in my gums–
oh, and my gums are barbed wire.
Don’t worry, my nerves have been severed, so I’m numb,

and I deal with the fresh cuts as they come.
I drink a glass of absinthe, I light a fire,
and I rub the fire iron over my lips, tongue, and gums,

and the cuts close up. I know, I know, I could just use some
band-aids, but it’s a show. It’s what I do for a living, actually. Drug companies hire
me to put on shows like the fire one, have me show my teeth and be numb.

The most common show I put on is simpler. I sit in a food court and seem quiet, mum,
and then I open my mouth like I’m sighing, just a little wider
than usual, and the lights shine off the razor blades in my gums.

Boy, does that spark a hum
in my audience. People circle around and ask me questions, they never seem to tire
from asking me how in the world I could be so numb

to being stabbed and prodded and cut. I tell them it’s some pill, and there’s my income.
Hey, I’m allowed to be a bit of a liar,
right? I can’t feel anything in my face, I have razor blades in my gums
for Christ’s sake. I’m lucky to be alive, let alone to be numb.

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Modeling Oneself After Jesus, in the Front Lawn

I am going to crucify myself on the pine tree
outside my home. I want to shimmy up the trunk
and press my hands through two branches.
With my arms outstretched and my chest pressed
against the trunk, I would appear to be hugging
the tree during the day, and I would seem like
some jutting bark during the night. My blood
would always look like dripping sap against the bark
and pine cones, so my parents wouldn’t notice
I’m bleeding to death and bring me down.

The Sad Sacks I Saw During Jury Duty

Potential jurors sip sub-lukewarm coffee and stare
into florescent lights spewing out spoiled milk-white light.
Court officials drift on and off of stools, parroting,
“Everyone check in, otherwise you’ll have to come back
here,” every time they flip through their wrinkled
attendance sheets. Police officers gaze into their shoes
as they stand by the metal detector at the courthouse’s
front door. Nobody looks up when the machine goes off.

Everyone Loves Cinderella Until She Becomes A Queen

Everyone loves Cinderella until she becomes
a queen. She pulls herself up by her bootstraps,
then, after a one-night stand, she sticks on
a glass slipper and gets whisked off her feet.
Then she gets to live her dream, have her
Achilles tendons lathered and massaged. And
the cankles swell along the old widows standing
in the crowds.

Reading the News (Las Vegas, 10/2/17)

You don’t have to speak for me to know your apathy.
Your two-yard stare betrays you, your tracing right
to left across the page and off the page into the
space between my two eyes. Goodbye, you’re conveying,
to these headlines, and they’ll take their leave later
today decreeing, “Until we three meet again.”

An Uncovering

At the back of a bar in Cleveland
one Sunday night, a man put down
his beer and told me he couldn’t
believe in the Apocalypse anymore.

His lips were calloused and thin, clinging
to his teeth, the color of jaundice.
They curled into a smile, and dimples
perched themselves off the smile’s tips.
When I asked him why he couldn’t believe
anymore, the dimples sank into his cheeks.