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I BROKE MY TOOTH IN TEXAS

This is the Gospel truth, most likely it was
on a olive seed in a Greek restaurant Friday night,
somewhere in Austin after I did a poetry reading.

It cracked in two pieces like a well-made biscuit splits,
clean but crumbly, next to last molar on the left side.
Didn't take notice right away, I was drinking at the piano bar

in the Driscoll Hotel, figuring it was a hard piece of gristle,
or a chunk of tortilla chip jammed way in the back,
I chewed and jawed all night with abandon,

Too busy carrying on to worry about it much,
I ignored it, acting as if food might be outlawed
by the weekend, and me starving for everything Texas.

I was inhaling barbeque, steak, grilled chicken,
red beans and rice, tortillas off my plate and
into my mouth like I hadn't been home in years,

(I hadn't) I let it fester, digging at it with my tongue.
In the airplane on the way home I ate my pack of nuts
on the other side of my mouth, and didn't crunch my ice.

By chance and fate, I had a dentist appointment
the very next day, so I took my kid in my place
hoping for a reprieve and time to heal the tender spot.

She took one look, rolled her eyes, sat me down
and said, "We gotta get to the root of this one right now,
You want shots or the gas?" and I was stuck for the morning.

Now my temporary crown has abdicated into two monarchies
a week until the real one arrives from the molar factory,
but it was worth it all, at least I broke a tooth and not my heart,

like I did thirty-three years ago in Pasadena when Greg Lind took
Patrice Jordy to Homecoming back in nineteen sixty-something.
Bring me an aspirin and a cold co-cola and I'll tell you all about it.

      — Shann Palmer