Poem: Gap-Tooth

                                                            I can fit my finger in your smile

               and you could bite down                     and I’d be all pink gums

   and haven’t you heard of cavities

                       and the tooth mouse will come in the middle of the night

on alternate visits with the fairy—

                        they have an arrangement made after years of in-fighting

                                  between the Puerto Rican government and

                                                                                                     the president

            over tax benefits and the creation of the piña colada.

                                    The island got the incisors and canines.

                                                                               The mainland’s all molar.

You should smile more but you don’t because there’s something missing

                        that everyone else seems to have, all rigid lines like

                                                                                                    |  |  |  |  |  |  |

            so their tongues can hide their secrets.

                        I took my first tooth out when I was three, my last

                                                                                                     at age eighteen,

          accidentally, then on purpose,

                                                                                     alone, then with the help

                                    of opioids and gas and a sharp little knife

            and I bled                    because I don’t floss

                                    after years of little cages telling my mouth

what to do                 what to feel                 how to look             what to hide

                                                      all of the above—

I rinse my mouth with salt and lemon

                                                and laugh with open jaws.

Poem: I used to run through puddles

Someone taught me my soggy sock was too soft-squishy,

            that I’d catch cold from mud-knuckled fists

                        and asphalt scrapes, that I should comb and dry my hair

            to keep it soft for someone else’s fingers.

Someone told me there are no fish in Indiana,

            that I couldn’t build a frog-pond because the thirsty earth

                        would drink my work up swallow by swallow

            until the sunshine made mud dust.

I found seashells in my backyard

            where the only salt was snail-sprinkled

                        and snow-speckled, where the ocean whispered

            miles and millennia away like a hermit on a mountaintop

with only wind for company.

Hidden up a tree behind choke cherry blossoms

            I waited as the leaves turned inside out

                        before the sky crashed down in waves

            and all the birds went quiet, quiet in the call

of mother thunder.

They found me with toes curled into the earth

            and eyelashes caked with rainsong,

                        breathing the stones’ perfume in deep

and exhaling lightning.