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


Rachel Cusk

The novelist on the “feminine non-state of non-being”
Merve Emre


Renaissance Women

A new book celebrates—and sells short—Shakespeare’s sisters
Catherine Nicholson

Fady Joudah

The poet on how the war in Gaza changed his work
Aria Aber

You Might Also Like

The Hauntologies of Slavery

On a journey across the sea
Jonah Mixon-Webster


The Body in Verse

A dialogue on literary somatics
Bhanu Kapil
Jonah Mixon-Webster

Why I Write

Getting ready not to be
Samuel R. Delany


Sign up for The Yale Review newsletter and keep up with news, events, and more.