My Father's Teeth
Before I left for college
my father gave me his teeth,
roots and all.
"I've a present for you," he said.
Spilled six molars
from a tiny manila envelope
onto my bed spread.
Grinned all gums at me.
Said I should save them
for the silver fillings --
"Pay for some classes."
For a second I thought he
had pulled them himself.
After all, how many loose baby teeth
had he yanked from my mouth
with those little needle-nose pliers.
It wasn't beyond my father to
suffer for small victories,
struggle for minor amounts of change
and save everything, everything
for the someday you might need it.
From the sanctuary of my covers
I could hear him nightly as he navigated
himself around the angry rooms
on loose limbs.
Dumping tips from taxi driving
onto his bed, counting with swollen
The music of coins cascading into
Now, as he sat on my bed in a glow
of pride as if he had just given me
the family's most prized heirloom,
I returned the teeth to their folder,
Thanked him, kissed his hollow cheek.
Then he pulled out his new dentures.
Popped them into his mouth,
smiled his signature smile.
"Yea, Pa," I lied,
"they look real natural."
Two years after his death,
my senior year in college,
I came upon the tiny envelope
in the back of my jewelry box.
Having forgotten what was in it
I dumped the contents onto my bed.
Saw my father's smile resurrected
What is there to say of a great gray elm
felled in one cold February afternoon
whose sound at falling was a splintered
that resounded in the surrounding
ached in the marrow of our bones,
and shook the owls who woke and
Nothing but sky
Nothing but sky
so that even the loggers stopped
for a moment
to glance toward the pines
before turning again to their
The Dog Ate My Poem!
I heard the words shrieking
under the chomp and shred
of razor canines.
Found the floor littered
lines, slobbered and split
crunched and crushed.
Meaning still clinging to his gums
he belched, barked back half
I liked his version better.
So, I'll wait a day or two
for the metaphor
to be metabolized.
Then check the back yard
for the final draft.
Read some poems from Gabrielle's chapbook