You can tell a lot about a girl from her teeth

Bits of creamed spinach
rest in the valleys between teeth
for hours before scraped away.

The little girl tucks her fallen tooth
beneath her pillow, finds a dollar in its place
in the morning.
How she learned to sell parts of herself.

The woman unbuckles her jaw
like a suitcase, removes her graying
teeth to scrub them beneath the faucet.

The orthodontist admires the fragments of
wisdom tooth beneath his outdated lens.

The carcasses of cuticles
fingers bloody dimpled with incisor holes.

Jars of children’s teeth
line oak shelves –
a collector’s paradise.

How to be a White Girl Poet

Write an ode to Starbucks.

Start a blog.

Smoke weed (but not too often) and practice yoga poorly.

Keep an expensive notebook inside a vegan leather backpack, and make sure you always write in public places. Display the notebook prominently on the table, even if you aren’t writing in it.

Act embarrassed anytime somebody mentions that you write poetry. Insist that you aren’t any good, but always have a short selection of poetry on hand to share, should the opportunity arise.

Chew on the tops of your pens until they are dimpled with incisor-punctures. Make sure you look like you are deep in thought.

Journal obsessively. If you didn’t write it down, it didn’t happen. Do bizarre things just so that you can record them in your journal.

Gnaw on your fingernails, the ends of your fingers, the carcasses of your cuticles. But keep trying to paint them. Write about how you wish you could stop the chewing.

Read cheap volumes of bad poetry. Read hardcover copies of selected Whitman. Read the sharpie on the library’s bathroom stalls. Read the creases in your tongue.

Stay awake until your nose won’t stop bleeding and then blog about how you’ve been feeling “off” lately and are considering trying a cleansing juice fast.

Siphon in SSRIs until you’re sick with serotonin. Drown yourself in dopamine and figure most poets were fucked up anyway.

Spend Saturday after midnight fingering brass buttons in bass-heavy basements. Find yourself hoping that one of them will rape you, so that you can write poems that someone will actually read.

Try to paint your nails on Sunday morning.

Discover that you have chewed straight to the bone.

For the ones who raised me

The albums are how I will keep my parents
after they have joined Jerry in the ashy dirt.
The voters of their bootlegged vinyls
hand stenciled in a cheap tent with tabs under tongue
will always look like my father’s fingers
searching for the rhythm on the steering wheel,
the frantic cry of sunshine daydream
is my mom, spatula in hand on Thanksgiving
rattling her bones against our hardwood floors
a skeletal frenzy
The cd shelf dedicated to live recordings
over the living rooms black box speakers,
Do you hear what the guitar is doing there?
Dad’s hips too slow for Mickey’s drums,
Mom’s hips too fast
a whirlwind of smoky bathrooms
swollen joint hands over a smooth fretboard
so pleased to finally find the right note,
I was getting it there at the end, wasn’t I?
My dad a dancing bear,
mom the bolt of lightning.

 

I know this is kind of a cheesy poem – but you’ve gotta write bad love poems for your family every once in a while. 

 

Sculptor

Why don’t you write poetry about me anymore.
His fist settles comfortably at the pit of my stomach
fingers curl around my esophagus
like one would grab a baseball bat.
Am I not inspiring enough?
He sculpts his sentence
until they sound like bad Dickinson
pausing for me to record chiseled words.
Why don’t you write about this.
He peel papayas with oversized knives
and leaves milk to warm in the honeyed sun
throat tightens, drinking straight from the gallon
his jawbone reflected in the steel blade.