the quick and the perfect (20170930)

only the dead are perfect
perfect in silence

you say
oh, so-and-so is at peace
and you are not wrong

but the dead
keep moving
like a handful of
shining white teeth
into a still pond
ghostly white
descend out of sight
while above
ripples ring
and crest

you measure the
depth of each trough
as it slices through you

the silence of the dead
is the roar of the furnace
only the perfect dead
move without moving

song fragment (20170710)

we collected teeth along the shore
hey la, hey la, hey la
a necklace shiny and bright made we
hey la, hey la, hey la

a night and forever its length you wore
hey la, hey la, hey la
as i spoke with the voice of the sea
hey la, hey la, hey la

the moon shines pale upon your breast
hey la, hey la, hey la
now for eternity we are dressed
hey la, hey la, hey la

benediction (20170324)

this poem was going to
be about me, a really good one
i could feel it in my teeth
the way they ground together
edge to edge, a squeak
before shattering

close so close
if i could remember a word
just one word
i could piece it together
water the seed
watch it grow

i’d never have to write again
because after i put that to paper
what else
what more could i
have to add

walking in a land
where i am not heard
i cannot hear the words
of the army of deaf mutes
only the popping
of gristle as they work their
jaws like meat grinders

or am i the one
who makes no sound
and cannot receive
a benediction

sympathy for the snake (20161208)

teeth are gross
it’s your skeleton
tearing through
your skin
where it’s weakest
where the “in” funnel
opens the food tunnel
to that snake inside you

we’re all the serpent
in the garden
trying to slough off
to live forever
on someone else’s dime

but who wants to live
forever when your bones
are trying to escape
by ripping to shreds
everything that tries
to enter you

it got so damn hard
with these extra limbs
the difference between
sliding off a sock
and struggling out
of a straightjacket

pennies (20161116)

i stare at the screen
my eyes closing
sleepy but tired
is not the state
i have achieved

my teeth ache, feel hollow
every footstep
every ringing phone
sends vibrations
along the floor
up through my feet
right into those last
nerves still active
in my caveman jaw

if one more person says
not bad for a monday
i might just
need to see the dentist
with my mouth full of shards
and the taste of pennies

dental hygiene (20160903)

the backs of my teeth
are rough
rough enough to make
my tongue tip bleed
from brushing against

it’s too bad because
i had so much to say
and now blood
dribbles down my chin
when i try to speak

you ask
what did you do to get
the backs of your teeth
so screwed up

i tell you through
lips coated in pink
it was the words
that hammered against them
while i clenched my jaw
held my peace
the acid of every word
i forced myself to swallow
staining them
eating away at them
making them sharp
and hollow
like dead coral

Poem 20160226b

in the graveyard in my chest
buried things
we don’t say anymore
a reliquary of abandoned words
discarded phrases
each bound by
invisible threads
unbreakable threads
to that singular muscle
also trapped in my chest

with no shovel
to break the frozen ground
i try to dig them out
using my fingers
but pull back hands
broken, bloody, covered in bites
where the silence set its teeth