by T.C. Martin


Born slant-nosed & mangled-jawed,
daddy nursed all crooked, piping wind

               through his one clear nostril. There,
               between breath & swallow, milk met mucus:

his first invention. He smiled, toothless
& busted, at this new making, wholly his.

               Isn’t that how it is, thought his mother,
               as she swiped her fourth & final boy’s chin

with folded Bounty. You make them, then
they make a mess, have all the fun & leave you

               holding the napkin. But her lemon-spirit fled
               at the sight of his dented cheeks, the clamp of lips

on her, sticky & strained. She had heard a prophecy
of metal in his hands. Hammers, nails, screws.

               Even gold. Gears in his teeth, which no boy
               would want. But she knew what was needed

for straightening out a mouth. Knew her boy,
born broken, would need breaking again.


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