The Promise of Threat

Jonah Mixon-Webster

I woke burying the memory of myself and myself
chewing glass to a silent end unswallowing and I
stood straight up pushing a finger behind the snag
that caught my tongue on the sticking edge hung
down from a corner slant atop the wisdom tooth
now dead my soft plunging breaks it into a scythe
and what I recall from my sleep another mouth
maybe turning and I bite my own hand thinking
pain is only perceived in the mind says the mind of the
dreamer who for once now woke feels nothing
perhaps I say then either all of it hurts or none of it does
which is how I come to find the blood and new
tooth in my hand apart from the projection of my
body I wrap the half-molar in tissue placing it under
the slunk head of a man and make a selfish wish I blink
and am somewhere else when what comes next is
myself with some other figure committing an act in
a parked Impala bound by the shadow a market
throws in some buzzing daylamp I won’t confess
another thing yet somehow the screen on my device
shatters making a shallow web my finger hits a
button burying a slice into the point I press my
thumb into to squeeze from underneath the glass
needle slowly pops from my flesh peeking out with
its smile a beam of rose and silver garland hooking
a peel of skin I nestle in my bite to pluck the thorn
out becomes a bone plate I snap meat off of the
chewing cracks a crown on the palatal wall filling
my cheeks with eggshell scraping gum and sand
against the animal in my mouth spreading over it
now there is something I am trying to communicate
here but I am muted by thirst the mind returns to
the image in the dream and it is as if my eyes appear
from the swinging door of my throat and I look
upon the double gate of stone yapping on the
severed glass out of sleep I survey what remains of
the tooth catching more blood in the organ my first
warning of the coming rot warning of a new colony
warning of the body itself—another pillage

Jonah Mixon-Webster is a poet and conceptual/sound artist from Flint, MI. His debut poetry collection, Stereo(TYPE), received the PEN America/Joyce Osterweil Award. His work has been featured in publications including Callaloo, Harper’s, and The Rumpus.
Originally published:
December 1, 2020


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