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Pulling teeth: A prose poem

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SEPTEMBER 09, 2023

Today I woke up at 5:30 a.m., terribly drowsy.
I haven’t woken up this early since high school.

By 8 a.m. I was in the dentist’s chair,
Shaking hands with people in scrubs.

As I woke up for the second time today,
The nurses called me charming.

Dr. S said I’d forget the morning in a haze.
He was wrong, I remember.


Today I woke up hungry,
Attuned to the fact I can’t eat solid food.

I had prepared protein shakes to get my nutrients,
But found salvation in miso soup.

“20 minutes on, 20 minutes off”
The frozen peas release an unpleasant odor.

The painkillers are strong and make me sleepy;
I lie down and dream of pizza.


Today I woke up with some minor aches,
The right side of my face a bit more balloon-like.

By lunch the pain had disappeared,
Replaced by my empty stomach’s hunger pangs.

I’m finding the soft diet incredibly depressing;
Today I’m trying semi-solid food.

I chew like a beaver with my front teeth;
I hope I don’t get dry socket.


Today I woke up in much the same spirits,
Last night’s residual thoughts lingering.

My gums feel strange from the operation,
My face discolored like an apple that’s been dropped.

And yet today is cloudy and barely 80 degrees,
In contrast to the usual 107.

As I took my dog out a slight rain fell on the spider webs
And I thought, “This is quite pleasant.”


Today I woke up and a look in the mirror
Revealed a face much more like my own.

The swelling of the left side down,
My sore jaw almost forgotten.

A headline passed through my mind:
American Opioid Epidemic.

I decided to stop taking painkillers today
And managed to chew soup dumplings.


Today I woke up and didn’t even need Advil.
I admired the speed of my recovery.

My parents were home on their day off,
So we all relaxed together

Opening my mouth all the way still hurt,
But I was able to sing in the shower.

I’m still awake though it’s 3 in the morning.
We leave tomorrow at 9 for Los Angeles.


Today I woke up at 20 to 10 this morning.
My parents, too, still sound asleep.

What started as leaving at 9 for our 12:30 appointment
Quickly became tickets purchased for 1:30.

We arrived at the Getty Museum at 2,
Praying they wouldn’t see the timestamp.

The exhibits were posh, filled with works from Versailles
The people, though, annoyed me endlessly.


Today I woke up quickly,
Alarmed by my mother’s sudden entrance.

As she left for work, I was told to monitor my dog,
Jazz, she’s diabetic and has become blind.

Last month was her 16th birthday;
I’ve loved her since I was three.

I sat at the dinner table today with Jazz beneath my seat;
These are our special spots.


Today I woke up early for Jazz’s appointment;
Dropped her off at 8:15.

After buying brand new dog beds,
The girl I like agreed to lunch on Wednesday.

We just got blindsided with news that Jazz is dying;
She seemed fine this morning …

“The first one puts them to sleep, the second stops the heart.”
I heard Dr. Becka’s sobs. Do veterinarians usually cry?

As sadness racked my body, and soundless screams escaped my lips,
My gums didn’t hurt at all.

Contact Christian Aquino at 


SEPTEMBER 09, 2023