The tongue counts its inventory
of teeth 200 times a day. Still
the dentist probes my mouth for cavities,
suspicious something is debauched.
Sixty years have left emptiness
in the white cemetery of my smile.

And here we go again,
one more tooth not worth keeping
yanked from my jaws.

Together, let’s lament my old friend
of many feasts who disappeared
abruptly one afternoon. I should have
offered him gold or silver. I should have
kept my mouth shut, avoided
sweet drinks and sugared coffee.

I can do nothing now but touch
the blood-filled hole in my gums.
with my finger while my hapless tongue,
strains like a dog on a chain.