Accused of writing too often about teeth,
too often about the vein stained underbelly
of the tongue – I have no defense.
A gum chewer, nailbiter, lipskin stripper,
I know him like I know the inside of my mouth.

Maybe I lost him when last winter’s cold grew
bloodless fingers, when I allowed them to warm
beneath my arms, between clamped
thighs, in the saliva-soft pockets of my cheeks.

Unable to explain why I stopped smiling –
having spent the previous night scrubbing
my gums into blood-freckled flesh
I couldn’t explain anything.

Nailbiter, lipskinstripper
I have no defense.