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A Poem: Toe 

The change began with teeth.
They didn’t rot
but chattered in his jaw when he didn’t speak.

They knew things that no one did,
so he when he did speak, he’d relate
what he knew in his nerves. Beyond dispute. Don’t

give the number out. Stay clear
of the war monument downtown.
He had to wear a cap inside

even when he was sleeping. All the time
a pencil was tucked underneath, off to the side
so he could make long lists on steno tablets. Find

interesting rhymes. The pain tapped in his ears.
They didn’t ring. The hammers
hammered. Ill.

He couldn’t swallow pills. He choked
on the placebo. He never said
my toe. He didn’t like to walk

but never said my toe hurts.
His leg puffed up. A clot.
No plot this time.

No gag or shake or cough.
He felt much better
when they cut it off.

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Speaking of...

  • A poem by Jean Kane.


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