Uncle Kenny’s Teeth

As published in the Briar Cliff Review, Volume 26, Spring 2014

Uncle Kenny’s teeth can rest in a glass on the bedside table

can sit in the velvet jewelry box underneath the bed

or pull out of his mouth, zombie-like

making his nine-year-old niece hide behind her father’s pant leg.

He gives a big-bellied laugh, shovels a spoonful of baked beans in this

removable cavity.

He tells stories as old as the grey lines of his tattoo

of grasses that blend with the hair of a Vietnamese child

blood like spilled fingernail polish across arms thinner than gun barrels.

His mouth is set in a hard line, like an overturned crescent moon.

Those fake teeth glow in the fluorescent kitchen light,

off-white and dull.