As published in the Briar Cliff Review, Volume 26, Spring 2014
Uncle Kenny’s Teeth
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
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.