Emily Dickinson, Teeth, & a Poem

I listened to an Emily Dickinson poem and wrote one of my own whilst brushing my teeth. It’s a bit short and sweet, but I’m always wary of over-writing, particularly if that leads to over-brushing, which I hear is really bad for your gums.

Considering Dickson’s oeuvre is pretty much defined by an obsession with the relationship between life and death, I’m surprised she didn’t see the pertinent symbolic potentials of teeth.

We spend at least 6 minutes cleaning them every day (unless you’re a repellent slob and/or Shane McGowan). That’s, according to my calculations, around 36 and a half hours a year. Despite this, since 1990, British consumption of sugar (the Kryptonite to our not-so pearly whites) has risen by 31%. So, all that effort, all that precious, fleeting time, and we just fuck our tusks over for the sake of a few digestives; it’s like working hours of overtime to save up for that extra special birthday gift for your partner, and as you hand it to them you belch and blow the hot stench in their face.

Teeth, much like life itself, have always struck me as rather frail. Going to the dentist was  like hearing a roll call of the Tory front bench (corrupt, corrupt, corrupt, etc. #political). But, weirdly, despite our frankly abusive relationship with our teeth, they will more than likely outlast the rest of our body. Whilst your heart withers away and your liver, which served you so dutifully during the Jager-years, crumbles into dust, your gnashers will be squat in the ground for decades. And still smiling, particularly now you aren’t around to drown them in monster energy drinks, you rancid cad, you.

Anyway, teeth don’t make a single appearance in this poem, except vicariously through Bison… Maybe if I’d have spent as much time on the poem as I have rambling it would’ve been half decent. But, you know:


Undiscovered Country

When the minute struck

My beating heart stopped

And the wind outside

Kicked, once – a foetus

In the world’s swollen

Womb. Then the wind slept,

Before swimming out

To Americas,

To the Rockies on

A bison’s shoulders,

Combing fields of wheat

And churning the stars

In flowing rivers,

and I lived in death.


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