The dentist opened my mouth and found
all these lies that I’d been hiding
inside my teeth like egg yolks bursting,
dripping falsehoods only whispered
now laid bare to clean tiles, white walls
He asked me do I find the pressure painful,
do I feel it throbbing in my ears at night-
I can’t eat truth or it will stain my reputation.
How can I swallow what I cannot bear to taste?
I lie because it’s easier
than finding the words to explain-
I lie and say I’m not angry
because I don’t know why I am.
I say that my honesty left me somehow
slipped away and I didn’t follow,
I didn’t try to get it back
but that’s just another tooth to pull,
another Vicodin to take
The truth is so much harder now,
a stone inside the womb, a diamond to cut
open old scars, to make each trip
with less and less air-
it takes a miracle of strength
to go back anymore
so I have lived without visiting those places
I’ve survived without eating that fruit
I’ve made a new life by filling cavities with lies
and pretending my smile is sincere
but the dentist knows, and God knows
It’s quiet among the trees
but the birds are acting strange;
though the grown-ups whisper
the children feel the truth;
they all know
that you’re not
I cannot apologize for my childhood,
for I wasn’t always there.
In all these hundreds of days
I’ve never gone back.
The way we learn to be
the way we’d ever choose
a wrecked flower
from the start.
I cannot apologize for the pathways
in fragile matter
or the horrors I kept in
by spreading out
I only know for sure
the way we try to love
a thing we can control
fruitfully or not,
one of my teeth is fake
what a secret to hold onto
when the delivery guy smiles
and when the boss is happy with me
or the boss is upset with me
and when my mirror gets lippy
they don’t know
but I know
a gold porcelain crown
is holding me down
and I don’t need
It only would’ve lasted
until I knew for sure-
fascination ended by
an answer, at last-
a thirst for the truth
to settle things
in their right place:
The gears would turn,
try to paint it in different lights-
the liar, the troubled, the confused-
which mask would it come down to?
But I didn’t expect
the least interesting mask of all.
The least helpful, least true
this mask of spared feelings-
to dishonor with lies
for fear of the hurt.
“Was any of it real?
Was it always in my head?”
A half-truth implied for protection.
A flimsy excuse to keep using.
I placed no blame on the blameless heart,
but the mouth who said nothing
and kept eating, who kept
accepting gifts, so easily
You were just an open box
I couldn’t pack away
because I didn’t know what
to put in it.
No friend should ever lie
no one who needs
should use so much.
I put a flask
and a pack of cigarettes
and a mask-
welcome to the junkyard.
“Honey why’s there sugar in the bed?”
“Prolly ’cause your bod is so sweet.”
“No for real, were you eating those Peeps in bed again?”
“Who would ever eat those cute little things?”
“Quit playin’ and tell the truth.”
“Fine, it’s from you ’cause you so salty.”
“…I’m gonna go eat hot Cheetos in your bed, brb”
“EXCUSE ME FOR SAVING YOU A SNACK”
There are some who will be
and some who will choose,
in turn, to blind.
But I, for whatever blindness
will not share it,
will not spread it around.