Thursday, October 28, 2021


 Teeth: A Short Story

They aren’t as hard as you think

Even diamonds can crack

I knocked out the one in front

When I was just ten,

An incident involving a Huffy bike

And an ad hoc ramp made

From bricks and a sliver of plywood/sheet metal 

We didn’t have enough to get it fixed

Back then. I wore a “flipper” for years 

Which was a pink palate mold

Melded with a fake in front

It was a dicey contraption.

I had to take it out when I ate.

A couple times at school I had to fish it out 

Of the dumpster behind the cafeteria,

My friend Eric holding me by the ankles.

I wore braces for 8 years because 

We ran out of money or something

And the orthodontist never took them off

But I didn’t mind because the metal wires

Held the fake in place

Like a wig that obviously wasn’t hair

But at least hid the baldness.

People get you slotted 

The minute you forget yourself

And let slip a smile.

So I re-learned how

By watching myself in a mirror.

What to do with my lips

How to angle my head

And crink my neck to the right.

More of the pained rictal grin of

Primitively carved jack o’lanterns.

Man, it’s a deep cut to realize that

Even joy can be a betrayal

All’s well that ends well, though.

I studied hard and hit the books,

Eventually earned enough to 

Buy a tooth of my own.



But it’s too late.

I smile just the same,

Crooked and awkward,

Despite the implant

And I come at apples from the side

With skyving flanking attacks.

Once you think you know who you are

It’s too hard to try to forget again

You have to wait until you’re old

And the face in the mirror is a stranger

With caved in cheeks and thin

Desiccated lips encircling

An edentulous gum-pink hole.

You just have to laugh, I guess.

The way it ends is so ridiculous.

Laughter is all you have left to deploy.

I like to think this is what drives

Cherubic babies to babble and smile 

With such toothless radiant joy


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