Ventriloquist Lips



it takes miles to smile with a mouth like yours

if you let it run it’ll never stop

salivating all the tears you’ve let cultivate

at the shriveled root of your unused tongue if you ever had one

I ironed it out into leather so that you could have a jacket to keep you safe from the

cold breaths circulated at seemingly warm dinner tables

where people hung like burning tea

on sewn lips

stung talk in their heat


your words curdled into euphemism

too engrossed in preaching properness to notice that you were becoming


your teeth were grooveless


never quite clicked together

I could see the awkward angle they made in your jaws

I tried bringing myself to ask the dentist to adjust them but couldn’t,

I envied

that he was the only person to ever observe the mechanical               of your throat


one day you didn’t smile

but when you did I wanted you to stop because

you looked like you were in pain

like the dentist forgot you were human for a moment

stretched your jaws

too wide

too far

let them bleed

‘til your corpse became paler than pale, a

husk of a husk,

didn’t know there could be an emptiness to emptiness

Nights I’d see you sneak a spoonful of wishful thinking

just to satisfy anorexic vocal chords

maybe to compensate for something you lost from there a while ago

and later wrote out on your skin in horizontal “I’s”

physically verbalizing

to remind yourself that one day “I” could get up

could unlace your mouth

without having to draw a vertical


will not let you hoard your stories


‘til they seep out the pores of your skin in


‘til they fit the slits on your


‘til they leak out the corners of

Eyes that cried wax

teared candlewick that smoothed over your fractured porcelain faces

so that people could silently light their prayers on your eyelashes—


your dimples were my duvets,

I could rest on them believing you were happy,


at least—that’s what the mirror told me alone

                                                                                               in our reflection.

Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 


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