Chris Tusa

Rookie (01.01,72 / New Orleans, Louisiana)


Poem by Chris Tusa

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.

Comments about Alzheimer’s by Chris Tusa

  • Kim BarneyKim Barney (1/24/2016 4:20:00 PM)

    Touching poem about a subject so many of us are familiar with. I have had relatives with this disease, so I hope I don't succumb to it as well. I try to stay alert by playing chess and writing my silly little rhymes.(Report)Reply

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  • Souren MondalSouren Mondal (1/24/2016 8:56:00 AM)

    Heartbreaking, complicated, difficult to verbalise - a disease that is widespread but somehow not talked about. I have a relative of mine,88, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. He used to be an athlete, and during my childhood, I had seen him as someone who is strong as a 'lion' (we call him Lion) , and now, it is all the more difficult and painful to look at him as he often just stares into the void, or sometimes starts talking with himself, sometimes saying that he is going to prepare for the Olympics... You have captured a brutal image.. Thank you for the poem.. It's a poignant one that touches the heart.(Report)Reply

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  • Yvonne Rautenbach (1/24/2016 8:12:00 AM)

    Brilliant- especially last 2 lines(Report)Reply

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  • Seema JayaramanSeema Jayaraman (1/24/2016 7:18:00 AM)

    Oooh...gruesome.. old age and hallucinations...(Report)Reply

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  • Ratnakar Mandlik (1/24/2016 2:55:00 AM)

    Beauty depicted through brutality nicely expounded. It's a rarely explored shade of life. Thanks for sharing.10 points.(Report)Reply

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  • 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.
    Lisa Allender

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  • 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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Poem Submitted: Saturday, July 9, 2005