A Toothache

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I used to think the very act
of coming out
to this frontier town,
to this slat-walled refuge
set down in the wild light
and crooning darkness,
would be sufficient.
A proof of concept.
Like I could purchase
everlasting freedom
with an act of unexpected boldness.
Without thinking it per se,
I believed that
after packing just my necessaries
and lashing them down,
selling the house and the grandfather clock,
then riding west across
creaking leagues of hunger and cold,
creeping ever closer to that fiery horizon
set with slinking, four-legged shadows
and the blackened silhouettes
of wide-rimmed sharpshooters,
certain things would be behind me.

I kept my storefront modest
and well-painted.  Well-lit.
I was polite in my dealings.
My ambitions were trimmed right down,
and I had many a neighborly conversation.
But still, I had this toothache
at the center of my being,
something that snuck up on me,
a wounding numbness
that was spreading
despite my every earnest labor with
diversified horsehair brushes,
pastes of pulverized charcoal and brick,
and brandied potions of sage, peppermint and salt.
It was leaking out through my bedroom window
and through the neighboring fields
underneath the nighttime stars,
to where the cows had bloated
and rolled moaning onto their side,
to where the sanded winds got riled up
and tore through town like stampeding furies.
It pained me sometimes,
during encounters,
while I was taking inventory,
or while walking along
the boardwalk,
through candlelight.

So finally
I went and saw the dentist.
He had this little shop
I’d always avoided,
a nook down the alley.
There was no wait.
I was surprised to ascertain
that he understood
all about the phenomenon
of a non-local toothache.

He wrote me a prescription
for healing by the means
of ever-present holy sensations.
Tore it off his pad
and jammed it in my shirt pocket.
Slapped me on the back
and turned me loose.

How’s it work?

Next time that ache comes on,
you just pull out your prescription
and read it.

So that’s what I did.
About two days later.

First thing is:
your heart is not a tooth.
Therefore, it is not susceptible to decay.
But you will ache like one
for however long you are confused on this point.
Breath this idea
into every hidden cavity of your being
and savor it like a two dollar peppermint paste.

before any more cows turn sideways.
Let us both enjoy a full night’s sleep,
my friend.



    • Thank you, Hariod. It is precisely delightful to share this space with you here again! (And to be able to rekindle my vocabulary training.) I hope you have had a lovely journey filled with mayhem and merriment, or whatever it is you would have actually most preferred.

      In Jubilance,

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was visiting old friends, and family, all of which was a pleasure, as was seeing parts of the country I had never visited before, much to my shame. I missed having contact with the blogging community of which I am a part, and felt a little like a deserter once or twice; although upon reflection I think it can be a good thing to take a break periodically, and return afresh to your own locupletative gems, as well as others.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Yes, indeed. The inter-web is known to house a variety of locupletauthors prodigiously dispensing with eidetic pulchritudes. (I’m practicing.) It’s a good place to visit after a convivial Britannian walkabout. 🙂


          Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Tiramit. It is challenging to think of any dentist as benign… 🙂 This is about as close as I’m willing to venture into that territory! Ha!



  1. footloosedon says

    Reading your latest gem and getting to the wonderful lines
    “your heart is not a tooth.
    Therefore, it is not susceptible to decay.
    But you will ache like one
    for however long you are confused on this point.”
    I was reminded that I used to get what I called ‘heartache headaches’ where the pain in my heart felt too great to bear, so I somatized that pain into my brain. When I finally became conscious of what was going on I became much more willing to feel the heart pain right where it originated. Now I very seldom get headaches, except from the fermented juice of the grape!

    Thank you Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don, thank you for sharing that. That’s really intriguing to me and beautiful in a way. It speaks to me of the way we shift into the head when the pain of the heart is too great to bear. It’s sad in the compassionate sense to think of beings unable to sit with the pain. We miss a certain richness when we do that. It sounds like a universal phenomenon to be honest. I may need to have you give me a little insight into the remedy… 🙂 Obviously you’ve had this visceral experience of it in your own body, but it just struck me as a corollary of a greater experience. Now the key is to drink the wine with your heart, to cure the head! Ha!

      Much Love


  2. Oh this is truly wonderful! It went some way in numbing my own tooth-ache that spills over city roads. Thank you very much for sharing Michael!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Anjali. I’m delighted to know the healing by means of ever-present holy sensations has woven its healing web… 🙂

      Thank you for your visit here!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Not sure how you do this every time Michael; Beneath your light, lively and humorous wrapping lies a soul stirring, profound message. I love it, both for the smiles and the message it carries. Thank you, yet again!


    • PR, I’m not sure either. I think it’s like this: prayer is when we sit down with the core of our being and we don’t get up again, no matter what comes, until we’ve felt the warm winds of Love upon our face. Writing is the same. It is a gift given. I’m so grateful to know it finds its way through me to find its mark… Thank you!


      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Michael …” that fiery horizon ” burns with such stunning creativity …you , dear friend embrace all of life with such delight always touching my heart …love megxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved this, Michael. Loved Hafiz hidden away in his dental office and his lovely prescription. Poor cows. Only problem is having been to the dentist today it makes my teeth ache😊!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ellen. Yes, poor cows… Poor, the sufferings of our broken hearts… The upside for you today is at least you know it’s just a toothache, and not all this other crazy stuff!



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