from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Saturday, 13 February 2016

prose poems from guest contributors: 5 Andy Brown

Andy Brown is today's contributor, and he's currently completing a manuscript of poems all on a medical/bodily theme. This is one of them.

A Story About Teeth

The schoolboy gladly found himself off school. Yet soon he heard his mother’s voice explain exactly what would happen to his teeth. His teeth were far too many, cramped inside the cavern of his mouth and, if he wanted a winning smile, then some of them needed to go; to be pulled; to make space so the rest could grow in line.  

They stood in line at the surgery, the schoolboy sucking his thumb, his mother thumbing glossy magazines and, when the dentist’s prep nurse came, she called the schoolboy’s name and pulled him fast across the polished floor. He felt like he was flying in a dream.  

Inside the sterile room, the dentist spoke behind his mask and scrubs, said “Bite down on the little rubber block; there’s medicine inside a hidden phial. Slip off to sleep and dream of something nice…”
       no sooner said, the little black block crunched…
                                                                                                             and the whole crowd was cheering wildly as the schoolboy flew towards the goal, the ball at his feet as big as the sun; the glory that awaited him brighter. But as the hulking goalie flew his line, the schoolboy couldn’t see a ball to kick and, taking the goalkeeper’s hand in his mouth, tore into his thumb with teeth the size of sabres…

Inside the car, his mother’s face was ripe with shame. Inside the surgery, the dentist’s prep nurse pinned the sodden bandage. Inside the schoolboy’s mouth, the first taste of a stranger’s mingled blood.

© Andy Brown 2016

Andy is Professor of Creative Writing & English at the University of Exeter. His most recent collections are Exurbia (Worple Press) and Watersong (Shearman). He recently co-edited the major anthology, A Body of Work: Poetry & Medical Writing (Bloomsbury). His first novel is Apples & Prayers (Dean Street).

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