A Month of Mouth Pain

my cheek feels tenuous
like it could peel off any moment

this isn’t a lie. chewing is white
noise earwax toffee

not an infection nor life-threatening
but i went to sleep shivering

wildly. the ibuprofen acetaminophen
has started to call my body home

me being someone who never
relied on the stuff. these white &

brownish pills the river
toxins. i have withdrawal

symptoms from my regular personality.
before the pain the old me

fades. just a guy who ate chicken
drank beers and laughed.

i may be exaggerating, i know

but i’m walking around the house
in a onesie the color of blood

because if my gums aren’t
bleeding i need something to resemble

it. o give me something else
to lie about. i want the hurting

to end. show me the revolving door
that takes it away. a pill

bottle ice cream shop
to walk in where they’ll say

it’s on us, have everything


(originally published in Neologism Poetry Journal, Winter 2018; nominated for the Pushcart Prize)

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