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Chris Tusa

Rookie (01.01,72 / New Orleans, Louisiana)

Alzheimer’s


My grandmother’s teeth stare at her
from a mason jar on the nightstand.

The radio turns itself on,
sunlight crawls through the window,

and she thinks she feels her bright blue eyes
rolling out her head.

She’s certain her blood has turned to dirt,
that beetles haunt the dark hollow of her bones.

The clock on the kitchen wall is missing its big hand.
The potatoes in the sink are growing eyes.

She stares at my grandfather standing in the doorway,
his smile flickering like the side of an axe.

Outside, in the yard, a chicken hops
through the tall grass, looking for its head.

Submitted: Saturday, July 09, 2005

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  • Rookie Lisa Allender (10/8/2008 12:55:00 PM)

    Amazing piece of work. Harsh, hard to take, but eloquent. Perhaps teeth could be said to threaten to bite her, rather than 'stare' at her, thoughyou do set up in the midst of the poem that she hallucinates, so perhaps these teeth DO 'stare' at her. Hmmm.
    I found you through a link at Poem Hunter. I think it was a comment by Eric Paul Shaffer at Edna St. Vincent Millay's 'Dirge Without Music'....
    Continued success.
    Peace,
    Lisa Allender
    www.lisananetteallender.blogspot.com/
    www.practicewhatyoupeace.blogspot.com/ (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Eric Paul Shaffer (8/20/2006 5:04:00 PM)

    Brutal, beautiful, and well done. You've presented the truth as it appears to the open eye. Nice work. I never bother to make specific suggestions unless I love the poem, so make what you will of these two quibbles. First, I would suggest that teeth don't stare; I'd change the line to 'My grandmother’s teeth grin at her'-same stress on the word, more accurate. Second, I can't see or understand this line: 'his smile flickering like the side of an axe.' I've held an axe, but I don't know where the side is or how it can flicker, so I am suddenly pushed by that line from a poem I greatly admire. Not knowing what you are after, I will still make my suggestion: how about 'his smile flickering like his grip on the axe.' Since the poem is about Alzheimer's, which is a condition in which we steadily lose a grip on ourselves, and to set up that magnificent last verse, I suggest that revision or something better. Excellent work, and yours is one of the reasons I return to this site. (Report) Reply

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