Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Coltrane's Teeth

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Coltrane's Teeth

Article excerpt

If sweets decayed his teeth-

sugared cornbread, the candied

yam, all manner of dime

store plunder: butterscotch

disks, honey drops & peppermint,

lemon balls & root beer

barrels-if sweets decayed

his teeth until only rot clenched

to the mouthpiece,

his sound is anything

but sugar: in that cut

with Monk when he bursts in late

like the only party guest

you ever really wanted

to come, his sound is whiskey

stirred with a dull blade, rust

mixing with smoky amber,

a side of crushed chili

pepper, & vinegar rubbed into

a wound. Easy enough

to kick heroin, tobacco

8C liquor, but hed never

be able to quit the sweet

potato pie topped with whipped

cream. If sweets decayed

his teeth, then his ever widening

spiral of shattered notes (knock out

all my teeth by 30, take my

liver on your best silver

platter, yes Death, lick your fat

knuckles & give me

the prettiest shiner I ever

prayed for) his spiraling

fragments of notes turn it all into

something so sweet

I'd beg for it again & again. …

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