C.T. Salazar

Definitions of Teeth

of animals a set of hard, bony structures in the jaw used for biting /
and chewing / see also fang / tusk / incisor / the dog / its foot bloody in
the railroad track / for instance / doesn’t hate you / he hates how the world

is a trap / set against him / his teeth / shining like new moons to show
you / he could serrate you / the world is hungry / and he refuses to be
swallowed / of tools definitions abound / think teeth on the saw blade /

think about the bites / that noisy bulldozer took out of your childhood
home / the bed you don’t sleep in anymore / the sheet music strewn across
the floors / teeth as tools / do not forget their function / the jawbone she lifted

from the woods / of some long dead animal with a bite / yes I was
jealous / of bone / I wanted to be held / heaven help our rot / our fingers
tangled / the long fang I pulled and crammed into my jeans / weeks later

I put my hand in my pocket looking for change / and the tooth sank
deep into my thumb / the rush of pain / brought back everything / the day
in the woods / the sharp cracked relic / the last time wonder / meant waste

Four Reasons That Prove I’m Still Alive Ending With Five Reasons I’ve Never Learned God’s Name

I. The scar from a dog bite came back eleven years later
after I got a tattoo over it.

II. In the cathedral, a homeless man pulled a revolver
on the usher and took the collection plate into his hands.

He ran through the tall doors

III. like an angel running home.

IV. Jesus wept, didn’t he? My father did
when his mother died.

I. When the dog grabbed me, I wasn’t sure he’d ever let go.

II. Even today I can’t say what made him stop, in the same way
I’ll never know how many spiders live in my apartment.

III. Describing the cathedral, I said the inside is the opposite of the
outside, but it’s still gorgeous.

IV. How many things can this be true for?

V. I would only recognize God’s voice if it came as a dog
barking. That was the first time I tried to talk to him.

Sonnet For the Barbed Wire Wrapped Around Childhood

You were the first to show me what my blood
looked like + praise be the first to say no
to my soft body + sharp apology +
I know your name by heart: NO TRESPASSING
you tight metal fist + glory your afterkiss
I saw you barbed on Christ’s bleeding head
+ knew heaven meant losing parts of myself
to jagged teeth that look nothing like mine

+ hallelujah those bloody parables
about how paradise leaves scar tissue
+ maybe I wanted the world to wrap
around me regardless of what that meant
+ on my arms these torn constellations
made me heaven + my chest of bright stars

C.T. Salazar is a latinx poet and children’s librarian from Mississippi. He’s the author of the micro-chapbook This Might Have Meant Fire, forthcoming from Bull City Press. He’s the editor-in-chief of Dirty Paws Poetry Review. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, 32 Poems, RHINO, Grist, Tampa Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere.

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