Wednesday, May 9, 2012

poem of the day 05.09.12

the lancing

as a matter of course
i used to bite my toenails
instead of clipping them

would grab my feet like a monkey
and go to town
biting nails and spitting them on the floor

sometimes i’d bite too deep into the nail
get the flesh and bleed

untreated an infection would show up
and hurt like hell

there’d be pus and blood
a big white bulb on the side of my big toe

i got a perverse joy squeezing
all of that shit out of my foot
for some reason enjoyed the sharp pain
the ache of the swollen toe rubbing against
the leather of my shoe

my mother would catch me
hobbling around, wincing

she’d ask me what happened
if i was biting my toenails again
when i thought that i was being so stealth

let me look at it, she’d say

then when she saw it she’d frown
have me soak the toe in epsom salt and warm water

if it doesn’t get any better
we’re going to have to go to the doctor
to have that thing lanced, she’d tell me

we went through this
each and every single infection
always the threat of a lancing

i had no clue what a lancing was
didn’t want to know

my child’s brain imagined a lancing
like getting stabbed or pierced
because i related the word
to television and movie fantasy

to knights and horses
madmen fighting windmills

that goddamned doctor is going to stab me, i’d think
sitting there soaking in the epsom water

i vowed never to bite my toenails again
or my fingernails for that matter

i was always good
for a few weeks after the infection subsided
but could never stop myself
from doing as i pleased

i always went back to biting those toenails

like an addict

taking my chances
squeezing and squeezing at the pus and blood
if an infection came again

enjoying the pain alone in my room
reaching for the epsom salt
like a seasoned war veteran
for a good long soak in an old rusty pot

a lone knight without chainmail
the don quixote of my block

doing my part
to keep those doctors and their swift
shiny blades
at bay.


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