Friday, May 12, 2023

A Poem on the Diseases of the Teeth

Some stains aren’t moral,
Some stains are just plaque.

Some poems aren’t about
What poems are about.
Some are working verse.

Solyman Brown poured
Out rhyming couplets,

In imitation
Of the previous
Century’s fashion,

For eighty pages—
A brick of cantos—

Poet laureate
Of dentistry—but
The weird poetry

Isn’t in the forced
Orthodontic verse
But in the footnotes

By another man,
And even then not
In the notes per se,

But in how each note
Behaves as a gloss
For the obvious

Meaning of the verse.
One verse tells parents
To leave milk teeth be,

Let unobstructed
Nature do the rest,
Whereupon the note

Informs us that those
Who live in small towns
Have a lower rate

Of mortality
From dentition,
Happy Villages!

All poems should get this
Scholarly treatment
A la The Waste Land,

But at the pleasure
Of each footnoter,
Whatever the lines

Suggest to a mind,
Let the readers write
Their peculiar notes,

Lyric fan fiction
If you like, so that
Any poem might have

Contesting versions
Of explanations
That win by virtue

Of bizarre surprise.
Forget the teachers.
Let the readers play.

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